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The Flipside of India’s IT Boom: Electronic Waste Management Nightmare

March 12, 2015

A child walking through e-waste in Mumbai

A child walks through a field of e-waste in Mumbai, India (Allianz Initiative)

One little-explored facet of outsourced jobs across the globe is its environmental impact. For instance, in India, where so many call center and ITĀ jobs end up going, the increase in technology and employee wealth brings many benefits to the community. Yet, the flood of technology creates an even larger flood of e-Waste as that technology gets replaced, and simply tossed in the trash.

That’s sad enough on its own. Then consider the state of kids’ learning across India, where hundreds of millions of impoverished citizens don’t receive real education. Imagine if an effort was being made to turn old office e-waste, and underutilized recycling programs, into kid’s electronics to learn and study.

It’s creative solutions like these that can make the world a better place. Passed-down technology, being replaced by IT companies, would be perfect for usage as kid’s electronics. Think about the learning games and fun, interactive programs kids in the U.S. use today on tablets and smartphones.

Electronic waste management is ineffective and is at terribly low levels, which isĀ having a major negative impact. Globally, e-waste is recycled at only a 12.5% rate, and India assuredly is far beneath even that level.

Meanwhile, some of the country’s poor citizens have taken to “harvesting” e-waste on their own. The sentiment might be a step in the right direction, however they’re putting their health at risk in the process.

By simply burning electronics or dumping acid over them to “mine” the valuable components, their own health is on the line, and they aren’t helping the environment, either. A superior waste management program is needed, and it’s needed fast.

child standing is e-waste

Photo: Maro Kouri

India does have the Central Pollution Control Board, and they do offer a variety of programs for waste, managing pollution, recycling and more. Clearly though, there initiatives for e-waste aren’t as effective as they could be.

By taking their burgeoning IT status, and combining it with efforts to improve education and kids’ learning, the possibilities are endless. There are essentially millions of old electronic goods considered e-waste which instead could be invaluable kids’ electronics.

With better education, and better electronic waste management initiatives, huge strides can be made. From instilling the value of passing on old technology from the office to be used for kid’s learning in schools or at homes, to large-scale recycling initiatives which dispose of these hazardous wastes more effectively, there are many ways that positive momentum can be built.

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