Toxic tale: India's e-waste problem set to worsen

Karnataka is at present among the top 9 Indian cities in terms of generating e-waste.

India’s industrial e-waste is set to jump nearly threefold to 5.2 million tonnes by next year, adversely impacting environment and humans. Among the states, Karnataka will contribute almost 10% of the total toxic output. The state — home to Bengaluru, one of the world’s largest IT clusters — is at present among the top 9 Indian cities in terms of generating e-waste.

The report prepared jointly by audit firm Ernst &Young and industry body Assocham said that e-waste produced by India will account for 10% of the world’s total output by 2021, with hazardous plastic waste generation reaching 31.4 mt per year.

High costs involved in plastic waste management and recycling and absence of proper policy framework has meant that India has fallen behind even Rwanda, the east African nation which stopped manufacturing, sale, use and import of plastic way back in 2008 and clinched a UN award for its efforts.

The study laid the blame for India’s worsening e-waste problem on recent policy changes. The changes, according to the study, led to a influx of leading multinational companies into India to set up manufacturing facilities, research and development centres and software development facilities.

The health consequences of producing tons of waste were “tangible and troubling”, said the study. The US Public Health Service has identified 22 human diseases that are linked to improper solid waste management. Multiple studies link asthma, bronchitis, heart attack and emphysema to garbage burning.

According to official estimates, India has 214 authorised recyclers/dismantlers which last year treated only 0.036 million tons of its 2 mt e–waste, leaving more than 90% to be recycled by the informal sector with little expertise.

“E-waste is inherently a complex problem to manage because of its duality as both a valuable commodity and source of hazardous waste,”the report said.

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Toxic tale: India's e-waste problem set to worsen

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