The advancement in technology & the resultant rapid growth of electronic gadgets in the last two decades has led to a massive rise in the amount of electronic waste generated by our constant need for newer, better, and upgraded gadgets. The modern culture is permeated with consumerism and new models are introduced all of the time to keep abreast of fashion. People want the latest electronic goods that combine style and convenience. While this does keep the economy moving with supply and demand, the e-waste generated from this non-sustainable practice is overwhelming.
The global consumption of electronics and the trade of e-waste inextricably links First and Third World countries together through economic development and environmental degradation. With the help of free trade mechanism & globalization, the tech trash is shipped to developing countries where informal recycling processes are common.
In India, e-waste is largely recycled by the informal sector, where numerous waste recycle workers are hired at extremely low wages, applying crude and highly polluting recycling methods for separation of reusable components and quick recovery of contained metals. These backyard practices often take place under the most primitive circumstances, exposing workers to extensive long-term health dangers.
Working in poorly ventilated room, with no protective gears, these workers who are mostly children burn circuit boards and cables to extract precious metals like gold, lead, copper and platinum, inhaling dangerous and slow-poisoning chemicals. Toxic chemicals in electronics products can leach into the land over time or are released into the atmosphere, impacting nearby communities and the environment.
India alone generates eight hundred thousand tonnes of e-waste every year = 110 million laptops! The IT hub Bangalore generates 400,000 batteries as e-waste every month.
There is definitely a better way to dispose the remains of our digital age, than to thrust it, unsorted, in the hands of people who stake their lives and health to earn a livelihood.