We are all big consumers of electronics, from multiple cellphones to our big-screen television sets to the little computer that runs our car. But all of them have a life, at the end of which it becomes garbage, waste that goes into landfills, and then pollutes the earth.
Rapid changes in technology which makes things obsolete faster, coupled with falling prices of new appliances and gadgets have increased the problem of electronic waste. These days, over a 20-year adult life cycle, we go through approximately five phones, two television sets, a couple of DVD players, MP3 players, stereo systems, computers, laptops and so on, thus adding to the electronic waste around us.
A good thing about India is that here nothing much is wasted. When your computer actually becomes slow for you, it moves down the ladder. Some people just trade it with an organisation that does a buy-back, or sell it to a scrap dealer who will either resell it or break it down to see what can be reused gainfully.
Still, there is a lot of electronic waste being generated in our large cities, with some reports indicating that this is set to grow by 500 per cent in the next 10 years. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) estimates that we produced about 1.47 lakh metric tonne of e-waste in 2005, a figure that will grow to 8.0 lakh metric tonne by 2012.
While the government is setting up standards for large companies and producers to handle e-waste, we as individuals also need to do something about it. This is where a new breed of entrepreneurs called e-waste recyclers has entered the scene. E-waste recycling, or e-cycling, is not new and has been done by a lot of companies themselves or outsourced to recyclers who would take the plastic parts out of electronic goods and recycle it. Some even refurbish the entire device and sell it cheaply to an under privileged person.
So, the next time you find an old unwanted electronic item in your house give recyclers like simsrecycling.com, e-waste.in, ecoreco.com and attero.in a call. They will delete the data on your hard drives before they recycle, and will ask for your explicit permission to do so. If not, make sure you do a double format of all your hard disks before you dispose of your electronic waste. A delete and simple format can’t protect someone from recovering data and misusing it.
Like the scrap dealer, some of them might also pay your some money, but remember it’s not the monetary gain but the environmental gain that matter more.
The above article appeared in the Indian Express, on Sunday August 08, 2010