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Threat of E-waste on India
Jun 17, 2014

A  new research paper estimates that in just over a decade, India will have on its hands a whopping 130 million obsolete desktop computers and 900 million laptops to dispose of. 

Besides the sheer volume of non-biodegradable material this entails, e-waste involves distinctly hazardous substances such as cadmium, mercury, lead, arsenic and a blend of plastics that are difficult to remove from the environment. 

A yawning gap exists already between the e-waste generated in India and its capacity to deal with it. No more than 16 formal e-waste recycling companies exist, with a total installed recycling capacity of just 66,000 metric tonnes, which takes care of less than 10 per cent of the total e-waste produced in the country. 

While disposal protocols must necessarily be rigorous for e-waste, much of this toxic material is handled and recycled by the unorganised sector, with serious implications for human and environmental health. This assessment aims to serve as a guideline to waste management authorities as they plan facilities to collect, recycle and dispose of e-waste, of which computers account for just a third of the quantum.

The researchers propose that a recycling capacity for 1030 million obsolete PCs be planned by 2025. The researchers looked specifically at computers, which account for a third of all e-waste that is generated in India. For the study researchers used population data to project the market growth and also historical sales data of computers.


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