E-Waste Management in Mumbai Metropolitan Region: Constraints and Opportunities

Article excerpt

1. INTRODUCTION

Electronic industry is one of the fastest growing manufacturing industry in India (Kumar et.al, 2011). The new electric and electronic equipments have infiltrates all aspects of our daily life providing us with more comfort, health and security (Priyadharshini and Meenambal, 2011). The technological boom has also given different opportunities to human being. Therefore trade, commerce, education, health, welfare institutions and households are using the electronic goods for different purposes. As the electronic goods have more reasonably priced, the volume of electronics in society has increased exponentially. It is because large section of society is purchasing and using electronic goods. As the affordability has increased, the replacement rate with the speed of technology has also increased. Innovations offer more functionalities, smaller size and newer design in the market. Given the time lag between the purchase of the product and its end of life means that products purchased one to ten years ago are being discarded now. Most of the products are either out of service or new features are added in it. The old products and features are no more useful in surrounding environment. The old products are either discarded or they are replaced by people. But the replacement system of old electronic products is not well functional in markets.

Maharashtra state is number one in e-waste production in India. Mumbai city is a financial and cultural capital of India. It generates more employment opportunities and attracts skilled labor force across the country. Due to high density of population, skilled labor force and technological innovations, electronic waste is growing fast in city. According to Central pollution control board (CPCB), Mumbai is at top in order to generate e-waste in the country. The Mumbai metropolitan region will generate 2.92 lakh ton e-wastes in 2020. It means e-waste is continuously rising with alarming rate in region.

At present, e-waste disposal is mixed with solid waste. It is posing a greater threat for environmental degradation and the effects are much more than they are estimated. E-waste that is land filled pollutes water, soil and air. E-waste contaminates rivers, wells and other water resources in the region. The air gets pollute due to emission of gases and burning of e-waste. The fertility of land declines due to e-waste landfill. Effects of e-waste on human health are widely observed. E-waste of chemicals such as lead, mercury, copper found in computer screens and televisions are poisonous. It can lead to fatal diseases like cancer, kidney failure, thyroid, hormone disruption and damage.

Most of the informal units are responsible for e-waste collection, segregation and disposal. Nearly 95 percent of the e-waste in region is processed by the informal sector. Women and children are collecting the e-waste in the metropolitan region. Women and children are less educated and they do not have much knowledge of e-waste. They collect e-waste and sell it to the retailer. In replace of that, they get few amount of money which is used for daily livelihood. Waste pickers are from poorer section of society therefore they can afford to work at lower wage. They do not get any medical allowance or compensation for injury. They are also not aware of such rights. They do not prefer to wear masks and hand gloves while handling e-waste. They are at high health risk due to exposure to dangerous and slow poisoning chemicals. But lower labor cost, high unemployment rate, migration and lack of protest are the reasons of the waste pickers working for e-waste collection.

E-waste management depends on the attitude of citizens. But lack of awareness among city residents is the major hurdle to keep e-waste management system in order (Ciocoiu et all, 2011). Consumers can affect the e-waste through environment friendly products, maintenance and environment conscious operation of products and careful disposal. …