Electronic equipments are no longer a signature statement of a select few; these are integral part of every one’s life and over a period of time will replace Pen Stand & Writing Pads from the desks of almost all. I wouldn’t be surprised if the pens & pads will be collectors’ items & sold for higher the price then the communication & computation equipments. And why not, change is the only constant.
Let’s not bother incremental consumption because that finally leads to Socio-Economic Growth but focus must remain on the safe & secured disposal once completely used. Presently after exhaustive use, we sale these used equipments to scrap dealers and in turn they dismantle and recover whatever best they can and the remaining either burnt, diluted in hazardous chemical or simply thrown in open to finally get mixed with air, water & soil. Practically all the electrical & electronic equipments contains some precious and some hazardous substances but when these are unscientifically dismantled or processed either because of lack of knowledge or lack of resources or most likely for want of greater earning in spite of the harm to the environment & ecology leads to polluted air, water & soil and in turn polluted food, water & oxygen finds place in our body which leads to diseases. Finally, we feel proud inaugurating more number of hospitals with larger number of beds. This entire chain affects the national productivity, standard of living and more number of early age deaths.
I have failed to understand, can’t we take care to hand over, our own used gadgets which till yesterday was a part & parcel of our lives, to someone who can responsibly deal with these hazardous substances in a scientific manner? Unfortunately, we have time & money to go to hospital and we proudly share and make known to one & all that how long and which prestigious five star hospital I was in, what a national loss.
In a Global scenario, it is equally important to note that if we do not get all our used equipments recycled, we really disturb the equilibrium because natural resources are neither equal to our need & greed nor available across the Globe in the same ratio. Therefore, when we want to reproduce either the same or any other item out of the natural resources, we need these ingredients again & again to meet never ending demand. The need of the hour is that, every single gadget used by us is systematically recycled and the raw material is ploughed back in the system rather than going deeper in the mines.
It has also been observed that certain parts of the World are not equipped with the proper knowledge, technologies & regulatory frame work to handle these discarded end of life electrical & electronic equipments and the remaining have several excuses and find it cheaper to go for land fill, further complicates environment & ecology.
Globally about 50 million tons of e-waste is generated annually which consists of close to 15 million tons of steel, practically equivalent to the annual production of SAIL, copper & aluminum is about 8 million tons, similarly plastic, glass etc over & above precious metals of more than 10,000 tons.
According to one of the very recent studies “the developing world will generate more waste computers than the developed world. Global volumes of computer e-waste are expected to triple between 2010 and 2025 and by around 2025; the developing world will generate double the developed world’s waste computers. Not surprisingly, developing Asia, due to its high population and rapid growth, is a major contributor to this future waste stream”.
Looking at such a prospective (!) scenario, the developing world must prepare them ahead of time before this menace leads to natural calamities. It does not mean, we reduce our consumption pattern or compromise with our growth plans but take this as an opportunity to set up required number of facilities to recreate resources out of the end of life electrical & electronic equipments and also generate substantial gains by applying principles of reverse engineering. Thereby, we can lead globally as one of the best source of raw material supplier to generate foreign exchange and create more employment.
Often it is recommended that there should be reduction in consumption, reuse should be promoted and then should go for recycling. It is a nice suggestion but in reality, we know that the technology changes very fast and the younger generation who are the real drivers of the economy will have to reduce consumption and reuse older generation technologies and compromise with productivity which appears to be unfavorable to overall economic growth. We can achieve all our objectives if we focus seriously on Responsible Recycling (2R).