The most crucial information in this essay is that unskilled scrap traders or kabadiwalas handle 95% of India’s e-waste. This should serve as a wake-up call to all stakeholders, both individual and institutional, throughout the consumption chain, because it costs the country dearly on three fronts: environmental, human, and financial. The environmental and human health implications are well-known, but the financial implications are less well-known.
For decades, much has been said about the need of properly handling electronic trash. Despite this, inexperienced scrap traders or kabadiwalas handle about 95% of e-waste in India. This one number should serve as a wake-up call to all stakeholders, both individual and institutional, along the value chain.
Failing to build an efficient e-waste disposal ecosystem costs the country dearly on three fronts: the environment, human well-being, and financial well-being. Because the environmental and human health implications are well-known, this might be addressed later. Instead, start with the financial element.
The Benefits of Urban Mining
E-waste is a huge source of pollution since it contains valuable metals like silver, gold, platinum, palladium, nickel, titanium, and so on, as well as lead and other harmful substances.
According to the United Nations study, Global E-waste Monitor 2020, at least $57 billion in precious metals are dumped or burnt each year in enormous mounds of e-waste that contaminate the environment. Unorganized scrap dealers acquire and sell most of this “junk” without complying with the essential standards, endangering the planets and all living species’ well-being.
o address the risks and opportunities in electronic trash, recycling factories are being built in India to separate valuable metals from potentially hazardous components. These valuable and dangerous metals may be safely turned into a useful resource while also contributing to a circular economy if collected in an eco-friendly, efficient manner.
Encouraging a Sunrise Industry
With 3.1 million tonnes of rubbish generated every year, India is the world’s third-largest producer of e-waste. According to the Economic Report for 2018-19, India may extract gold worth $1 billion by mining urban E-waste.
Yet, ideas like the circular economy have failed to catch on in Indian society. Consumers in the EU can dispose of electronic garbage by visiting specified zones and paying the waste processing firm’s fees. The absence of adequate avenues for customers to dispose of e-waste is a key impediment to urban mining in India.
More awareness must be established across the country for urban mining to become a pan-India phenomena, and EVs and the rising momentum towards a digital India provide a chance to promote urban mining. This would minimize imports, reduce foreign exchange outflows, and protect both human and environmental well-being.
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