Developed countries are dumping their electronic and electrical waste, popularly termed e-waste, in countries like India and China in the name of ‘charity,’ a recent study conducted by researchers in India, China and UK has revealed.
“A huge amount of used electrical items and equipment are entering India and China from different developed countries. Those items are free from all type of associated duties as they are meant for charity purposes. But as they are all used items they soon add up to our e-waste,” said Sadhan K Ghosh, a professor of mechanical engineering department in Jadavpur University and president of the International Society of Waste Management’s Kolkata chapter.
Ghosh led an eight-member team of researchers from UK, China and India which conducted a comparative analysis of the e-waste scenario in the three countries.
He said that in the early 80’s Basel Action Network banned the import of hazardous waste. Later many other such acts have come up including official declaration of China in 2000 and India in 2008 on ban of e-waste import. But the traffickers have always been successful to find some shunt way.
“An estimated amount of 80% of e-waste is shipped to different parts of Asia including India. The Ministry of Environment and Forest has made import of e-waste illegal. But despite this some e-waste trafficking still takes place,” Ghosh said.
A report of the United Nations predicted that by 2020, e-waste from old computers would jump by 400% on 2007 levels in China and by 500% in India. Additionally, e-waste from discarded mobile phones would be about seven times higher than 2007 levels in China and in India 18 times higher by 2020.
In the UK, there are some companies which hold the contracts for handling the total waste from the local authorities. However, for specific streams like e-waste, smaller firms are given subcontracts to deal with it. After collection from dump site these small firms export it instead of sending it to the recyclers.