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Lockdowns have exacerbated e-waste crisis

Lockdowns have exacerbated e-waste crisis

India, with 3.2 million tonnes, was the third biggest contributor to global e-waste according to the Global E-waste Monitor 2020 report released recently. The United Nations (UN) report found that the world dumped a record 53.6 million tonnes of e-waste last year. Of this, just 17.4% was recycled.

China, with 10.1 million tonnes, was the biggest contributor to e-waste and the United States was second with 6.9 million tonnes. Together the three countries accounted for nearly 38% of the world’s e-waste last year.

“Even countries with a formal e-waste management system in place are confronted with relatively low collection and recycling rates,” the report said. “Although India is the only country in South Asia to draft legislation for e-waste, its collection remains rudimentary,” it added.

According to a recent ASSOCHAM-NEC study, India generated e-waste of about two million tonnes per annum, while it recycled about 438,085 tonnes per annum. The Centre for Science and Environment points out that the number of countries that have adopted a national e-waste policy, legislation or regulation has increased from 61 to 78 and includes India. While this is certainly a positive trend, it is far from the target set by the International Telecommunication Union to raise the percentage of countries with an e-waste legislation to 50%.

While the overall damage done to the environment from all the un-recycled waste may be incalculable, the warning message from the report was decisive, “The way in which we produce, consume, and dispose of e-waste is unsustainable.”
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