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From Old Cell Phones to Deadly Waste

India produces no less than 400,000 tons of electrical waste, including old cell phones, each and every year.  It is anticipated that this current rate is set to grow at a rate of between ten to 15 percent, making it a very serious worry for environmentalists in the country.

“Electronic equipment itself is in itself not hazardous but when they are broken down, that’s when the hazard aspect becomes a problem as toxins are leaked into the environment,” says the secretary for lobby group Elcina Electronics Industries Association of India, K Srinivasan.  “There are two aspects to this problem – the economic and the social aspect.” Srinivasan notes that India’s currently very informal chain of electronic recycling lacks efficiency in how it attempts to remove the essential materials from old electrical goods, nor it is very safe.  “The solutions in which components are dipped are thrown into the open drain and wires are burnt causing air pollution.  They create health hazards for themselves and cause environmental damage.”

A report from the not for profit organization known as Toxics Link says that the electronics waste market across the entire world is tipped to reach 53 million tons per annum by next year, an increase of 11 million tons from just 2008, and notes that the rate of growth and increasingly globalized trade of such waste is creating serious environmental and health concerns, particularly in developing countries.