Electronic waste is a growing frustration to those in the metals industry, since the recyclable metals contained in e-waste often fill local landfills instead of finding a life after death. We’ve discussed the problem of e-waste a few times, and last month, we shared some simple ways to recycle cell phones. Although electronics such as computers, TVs, VCRs and cell phones can often be reused, refurbished, and recycled, many consumers chose to avoid these opportunities. Electronics are one of the fastest-growing types of waste in the world.
India is one country where e-waste has proved particularly troublesome. The flourishing IT sector in India is partially responsible for the country’s massive amounts of digital waste, but that’s not the end of it. E-waste is also coming from outside, as other countries choose to “drop off” their e-waste in the area to avoid their own environmental regulations. This exported e-waste causes a large problem for humanity and the environment. “Of the 12.5% of electronics waste that is recycled, an estimated 50% to 80% (400,000 to 800,000 tons of e-waste) is exported to the developing world,” reports Inhabitat. “There, workers young and old use hammers, gas burners, and bare hands to take apart e-waste and extract the more valuable materials, exposing themselves, the local environment, and surrounding inhabitants to a toxic mix of hazardous chemicals.”
Luckily, there’s hope. One campaign from the Basel Action Network called Take Back My TV has picked up steam as time passes, calling for properly managed e-waste recycling. Delhi’s Toxics Link also works for “environmental justice and freedom from toxics.” And then there’s a movement even more important than grassroots activism: Mumbai, one of India’s largest cities, has introduced the first advanced e-waste recycling facility in the country, Eco Reco.
The company uses vans to pick up discarded electronics from homes, schools and businesses. Then, the e-waste is brought to the company’s recycling center, where it is processed and recycled. According to a recent article from TreeHugger, “The e-trash then goes through the shredder on a conveyor belt, and the components are separated by a metal extractor. Workers then break up the [non-toxic] plastic from the metal by hand. Eco Reco’s eco-friendly marketing approach seems to be working and in a little over three months, the company has garnered fifty clients, one of them being Tata Services, one of Tata Motors’ subsidiaries.”
E-waste recycling is important, but human life is even more important. This company has found a way to make recycling in India safe, swift, and clean.