Must fight this monster

DQW Bureau
05 Jul 2010
New Update


One big terrorist in the making, whom we have been ignoring, is e-waste. Talk

to any environment or pollution expert today, and he will scream that desktops,

laptops, cell phones, and other electronic components that are inside it or the

hundreds of gadgets in fashion today, become the biggest toxic waste, as soon as

they are discarded.

Many of us will not know, but the unfortunate truth is that the IT industry

contributes about 30 percent of the total e-waste generating all around us. All

their corporate, social responsibility measures go for a toss in the face of

such deadly heavy metals including lead, mercury, and cadmium being shoved into

the environment.


For India, despite the low PC penetration, the e-waste figures are beginning

to get alarming. According to an estimate during 2007, about 3.3 lakh tonnes of

e-waste was generated. But the way mobile phones are being sold and discarded in

the country, and desktop and notebook sales picking up, the situation could go

out of hand. By the year 2011, e-waste in India could touch the five lakh tonnes


As per a MAIT e-waste assessment study, 94 percent of organizations using IT,

did not have any policy on disposal of junk. The bigger problem is therefore

that not too many of us realize and understand the enormity of e-waste. Thanks

to this poor awareness, today there is no way to track when and where PCs and

cell phones are ready to be thrown away, and where and how are they being

disposed off. There are organizations in India that buy computers in thousands

every year, and therefore throw away an equally big number.

On top of this, since many other countries do not allow any e-waste to be

disposed off in their land, unscrupulous traders dump the junk in other

countries like India. And the law in India that blocks dumping of e-waste from

rich nations is easily by-passed by terming the shipment as donation. Managing

e-waste also has a lot of other angles to it. We need recycling plants and

currently there are only two in the country, and they too are operating at

sub-minimum levels. We have a huge unorganized sector of junk dealers whose

livelihood depends on this.

While awareness dawns on people and laws come in place, I think the channel

partners can play a big role here. For instance, they can educate their

customers about e-waste, and work out schemes with the vendors or with the

e-waste processing units to take old and junk equipment back. Quite a few

vendors have shown interest in such initiatives with channel partners. The

channel associations can also take a leadership role in this and work with

vendors on the one hand and local administration on the other to see that

e-waste is disposed off properly. This will be a big contribution to the


Ibrahim ahmad