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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Studying at Cambridge

Arcot Srilakshmi

e-waste management: problems and prospects in developing countries

Arcot Srilakshmi

e-waste management: problems and prospects in developing countries

E-waste is the waste generated when electronic and electrical goods are discarded at the end of their utility or when replaced by latest models. It is a collective name for all electronic and electrical devices that enter the waste stream. This new type of waste has emerged with increasing use of electronic gadgets and changing consumption patterns.  Increasing quantum and pollution potential are two areas of concern with regard to e-waste. Extraction of precious metals present along with other hazardous substances poses universal environmental and economic challenges.

The study examines issues related to management of e-waste in Indian context. Rapid growth in IT and ITES sectors has resulted in accumulation and generation of e-waste. Bangalore, one of the major contributors to the growth of IT in the country figures prominently among the e-waste generating cities in India. A study of e-waste management in Bangalore city was carried out. Overview of e-waste scenario, current management practices, role of different stakeholders and their interventions in handling and managing e-waste are discussed.

E-waste is an emerging issue. Though the quantum of e-waste generated is less, its hazardous characteristics and current management practices, poses a serious threat to the environment and public health. Recycling sector, an integral part of e-waste management, is market driven. Material recovery is high, indicating good business potential, provided there are improvements in the techniques to minimize adverse impact.

There is a need to create awareness, develop management of information system, maximize positive aspects of recycling sector and co-ordinate this sector with manufacturing units to close the material flow loop.  Willingness among different stakeholders and initiatives proposed to tackle e-waste augurs well for the future in this area of waste management.