E-waste becoming a crisis


Sanjay Verma

It has now become an understanding in the developed countries that they will not allow any kind of pollution to arise in them. There are concrete policies being adopted regarding electronic junk. But the problem of countries like India is that neither there is any such awareness at the level of the public nor are the governments concerned about it.

One of the major problems of the modern human civilization is that it is producing many types of waste. This waste is conceptual as well as physical. Innumerable examples of ideological waste are found all the time from social media to electronic media. It is not known whether civilization will ever be able to get rid of this waste. But some efforts have already begun to treat just one of the many forms of physical waste. This is electronic waste, a great example of which was presented at the Tokyo Olympic Games. The medals given to the winning players in the Olympics were all made from discarded mobiles (smartphones) and laptops. About five thousand such medals of gold, silver and bronze were made which were given to three hundred and forty nine players and teams.

These mobile phones and laptops were collected from the Japanese under the ‘Tokyo Medal Project’. Not only the medal, but the Olympic torch was also made from aluminum scraps that were used to build temporary homes during the 2011 Japan earthquake. The Tokyo Medal Project, launched in 2017, about four years before the Olympics, collected thousands of old smartphones and laptops weighing eighty tons from ninety percent of Japan’s cities. Thirty two kilograms of gold, about three hundred and thirty kilograms of silver and about two thousand two hundred and fifty kilograms of copper were extracted from their recycling and medals were made. The Tokyo Olympics thus became the first sporting event in the world in which all medals awarded were made of electronic junk.

However, such experiments have been done on a sporadic level in the past as well. In the 2016 Rio Olympics, 30% of the gold and silver medals were made from scrap materials. Such experiments being done in the Olympics are trying to send a message that if serious efforts are not started to deal with electronic waste, then it is going to become a big threat to the animal world. The assessment of how big this threat can be is staggering. It has been said in an estimate that in the year 2019, a record 50.76 million tonnes of waste was generated globally, which is equivalent to the weight of 350 cruise ships of the size of Queen Mary-2. This amount of electronic waste, if distributed evenly, comes to about 7.5 kg per person.

One big aspect of the problem is that as the demand for electronic goods is increasing in the world, the amount of its waste is increasing every day. Smartphones in particular are proving to be a big problem. The situation is that the number of mobile phones in the world has exceeded the human population. The number of smartphones is increasing rapidly in countries like India, China, Indonesia, America etc. In the Corona era, the demand for smartphones, tablets and laptops has increased even more due to compulsions like online studies. Apart from this, people’s desire for their new versions has also made it difficult. People keep changing gadgets every few months.

As soon as a new model of smartphone comes in the market, throw the old mobile in the junk and take the new one. China and India are particularly noteworthy in this case, where each country has a population of more than 1.5 billion people with mobile phones. India touched one billion mobile subscribers in 2017 four years ago. Whereas China has crossed this figure only in the year 2012. According to statistics, only China and India are the only countries in the world where the number of mobile holders is more than 1.5 billion. It is claimed that due to these two countries, this world has become a neighborhood of eight billion mobile holders. According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), there are about ten countries including India, China, Russia, Brazil where the number of mobile phones is more than the human population.

There is no doubt that electronic devices like mobiles and laptops have become an essential tool for the current needs of communication and work. Today’s world would not work without them. In the Corona era, this thing has become more clearly evident. Thanks to these devices, a lot of work and entertainment arrangements are being done sitting at home. But these arrangements of progress and convenience have brought us to such an unknown point in history where we do not know how much danger lies ahead.

However, there are some guesses and guesses about this, which give an impression of the problem. For example, eight years ago in 2013, in a seminar organized by the Institute of Technical Education and Research (ITER) on Management and Handling of E-Waste, scientists from the Ministry of Environment and Forests made an assessment and said that India generates eight lakh tonnes of electronic waste every year. Has been doing. Sixty-five cities of the country contribute to this waste, but most of the e-waste is being generated in the commercial capital of the country, Mumbai. Indian cities may lag behind some other cities in the world, but it is not a matter of satisfaction.

The real problem is the environmental and human damage caused by such e-waste. Whether it is mobile phones, laptops or other electronic devices and their batteries, etc., the metals, plastics and radiation-generating parts used in all these do not get destroyed by naturally dissolving in the ground for hundreds of years. Just take a guess from this that a mobile phone battery can contaminate six lakh liters of water. In addition, a personal computer contains 3.8 pounds of lethal lead and elements such as phosphorus, cadmium and mercury, which, when burned, directly dissolve into the atmosphere and produce toxic effects. The amount of lead that cathode ray picture tubes used as computer screens releases into the environment is also very harmful. All these things that reach the garbage eventually cause many serious diseases like cancer in humans and other organisms.

In many areas of the country, the business of importing e-waste from abroad and extracting useful things from them is also being done on a large scale. This is no less a bigger crisis for us in the future. Efforts to extract small amounts of gold, silver, platinum etc. metals from old laptops, desktops, mobile phones, batteries, condensers and CD and fax machines by immersing them in chemicals are polluting our water and land. This attempt proves to be fatal indirectly. It has now become an understanding in the developed countries that they will not allow any kind of pollution to arise in them. There are concrete policies being adopted regarding electronic junk. But the problem of countries like India is that neither there is any such awareness at the level of the public nor are the governments concerned about it. Along with being a slave to technology, if we do not look at the electronic waste that is sacrificing the environment and health today, then it will not be easy to overcome the troubles that will come in the future.

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