If the per capita generation of e-waste is taken into account individually, every person on the planet at present is responsible for generating 6kg of e-waste annually. About 80% (4.8kg) of this either ends up in landfills or is informally recycled, exposing workers to hazardous and carcinogenic substances and contaminating soil, ground water and food supply system.
This alarming fact was flagged by seven UN agencies on the sidelines of World Economic Forum at Davos on Thursday, urging the world for an overhaul of the current system of disposing and recycling of such waste so that it can minimise environmental impacts and create decent, sustainable jobs.
Calling the quantum, being generated globally, a tsunami of e-waste, the UN entities said the world produced as much as 50 million tonnes of electronic and electrical waste (e-waste) a year, weighing more than all of the commercial airliners ever made.
Noting that only 20% of the total e-waste is formally recycled, their report warned that the global e-waste production was on track to reach 120 million tonnes per year by 2050 if the current trends continued.
Figures from 2016, compiled as the Global E-Waste Monitor 2017 by the United Nations University, show that India generated 2 million (20 lakh) tonnes of e-waste out of total 44.7 million tonnes of e- waste globally that year.
India has a capacity to dismantle and recycle only 20% (over 4 lakh tonnes) of its total e-waste. Though there is no comprehensive state-wise inventorisation of e-waste generation in India, the country has a total 178 dismantler and recycling units with highest number of such units (57) being in Karnataka followed by Maharashtra (32), UP (22), Haryana (16) and Tamil Nadu (14).
Asked about India, Gopal Krishna of the Toxic Watch Alliance, said, The threat to public health from e-waste is enormous as environmental and occupational health infrastructure is almost nonexistent in the country.
The rules on e-waste management in India mandates producers to be responsible for the collection and financing of systems through Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) concept. Krishna said, Although e-waste management rules introduced EPR, it remains inadequate.