Experts: India Dumping Ground For E-waste

Informal e-waste recycling, India Electronic waste is piling up around the world at a rate estimated at 40 million U.S. tons a year, according to UNEP. Circuit boards, cell phones and other electronic equipment contain metals such as gold, silver, copper, aluminum and palladium. But improper techniques used to separate, incinerate or derive these metals from e-waste may result in the release of mercury, dioxins, lead or other hazardous (even toxic) pollutants. UNEP/STEP Initiative-EMPA

An environmental group warned Tuesday that India was fast becoming a dumping ground for electronic waste and asked the government to frame stringent laws to control illegal trade and its recycling.

India generates up to 385,800 tons of electronic waste every year - equal to 110 million laptops- and imports another 55,100 tons, mostly illegally under the pretext of metal scrap and secondhand electrical appliances, said the Center For Science And Environment.

Private companies employing thousands of workers recycled more than 90 percent of the electronic waste in India but draft laws circulated by the government recently ignored this unorganized sector, Chandra Bhushan, the group's environmentalist told reporters.

The draft laws covered only big investment companies that account for only 10 percent of the recycling of electronic waste in the country, Bhushan said.

The Environment Ministry spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment.

Bhushan also said the developed countries were using free trade agreements to export their wastes to countries like India to avoid the cost of disposing of them.

He listed some of the hazards faced by thousands of workers in the Indian industry: Extracting lead could damage their kidneys and reproductive health while plastic found in circuit boards could harm the immune system; chromium removed from metal plates in computers could damage liver and kidneys.
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