Text by Maria Tavernini email@example.com
E-waste is the world's fastest booming garbage stream, with the global volume of electronic waste expected to steadily increase in the future, due to the ever-growing demand and the fast obsolescence of todays' technology. For years developing countries have acted as dumping grounds of e-waste material imported from the West. But today India's growing economy and burgeoning middle-class is adding millions of people with an increased purchasing power; their growing demand of always-newer devices has created an enormous flow of e-waste in developing countries, both in India and China.
India produces 350,000 tonnes of e-waste every year while another 50,000 tonnes from the US and Europe find their way to Mumbai and Chennai. From there, it is transported to the main recycling hubs, generally situated in big cities such as Delhi, Kolkata or Bangalore. Some 95 per cent of this highly toxic waste is recycled by unskilled workers in the informal sector.
In recent years Delhi has emerged as the main dumping yard for e-waste with a share of 70 per cent on the total and likely to generate to an extent of 95,000 tonnes per year by 2017 from current 55,000. Dismantling and recycling e-waste is a daily source of livelihood for some 25,000 scrap dealers in the capital.
In 2012 the E-waste Rules came into force and introduced in India the concept of EPR, or extended producer responsibility. The law, that also forbids all unauthorized collection and dismantling of e-waste, is far to being implemented; while lobbyists blame the government for being lethargic in implementing the rules and find many loopholes in the legal framework. It's under discussion in these days a new draft rule that should bear more precise and strigent dispositions to curb the booming problem of e-waste in India.
A reportage that explores the different realities involved in the illegal recycling process.