Disposal of e-wastes is a particular problem faced in many regions across the globe. Computer wastes that are landfilled produces contaminated leachates which eventually pollute the groundwater. Acids and sludge obtained from melting computer chips, if disposed on the ground causes acidification of soil. For example, Guiyu, Hong Kong a thriving area of illegal e-waste recycling is facing acute water shortages due to the contamination of water resources.
This is due to disposal of recycling wastes such as acids, sludges etc. in rivers. Now water is being transported from faraway towns to cater to the demands of the population. Incineration of e-wastes can emit toxic fumes and gases, thereby polluting the surrounding air. Improperly monitored landfills can cause environmental hazards. Mercury will leach when certain electronic devices, such as circuit breakers are destroyed. The same is true for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from condensers. When brominated flame retardant plastic or cadmium containing plastics are landfilled, both polybrominated dlphenyl ethers (PBDE) and cadmium may leach into the soil and groundwater. It has been found that significant amounts of lead ion are dissolved from broken lead containing glass, such as the cone glass of cathode ray tubes, gets mixed with acid waters and are a common occurrence in landfills.
Not only does the leaching of mercury poses specific problems, the vaporization of metallic mercury and dimethylene mercury, both part of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) is also of concern. In addition, uncontrolled fires may arise at landfills and this could be a frequent occurrence in many countries. When exposed to fire, metals and other chemical substances, such as the extremely toxic dioxins and furans (TCDD tetrachloro dibenzo-dioxin, PCDDs-polychlorinated dibenzo¬dioxins. PBDDs-polybrominated dibenzo-dioxin and PCDFs¬poly chlorinated dibenzo furans) from halogenated flame retardant products and PCB containing condensers can be emitted. The most dangerous form of burning e-waste is the open-air burning of plastics in order to recover copper and other metals. The toxic fall-out from open air burning affects both the local environment and broader global air currents, depositing highly toxic by products in many places throughout the world.
Table I summarizes the health effects of certain constituents in e-wastes. If these electronic items are discarded with other household garbage, the toxics pose a threat to both health and vital components of the ecosystem. In view of the ill-effects of hazardous wastes to both environment and health, several countries exhorted the need for a global agreement to address the problems and challenges posed by hazardous waste. Also, in the late 1980s, a tightening of environmental regulations in industrialized countries led to a dramatic rise in the cost of hazardous waste disposal. Searching for cheaper ways to get rid of the wastes, “toxic traders” began shipping hazardous waste to developing countries. International outrage following these irresponsible activities led to the drafting and adoption of strategic plans and regulations at the Basel Convention. The Convention secretariat, in Geneva, Switzerland, facilitates and implementation of the Convention and related agreements. It also provides assistance and guidelines on legal and technical issues, gathers statistical data, and conducts training on the proper management of hazardous waste.
The electronic waste management assumes greater significance inIndianot only due to the generation of our own waste but also dumping of e-waste particularly computer waste from the developed countries.
There are two small e-waste dismantling facilities functioning in Chennai andBangalore.
Five e-waste recyclers around Chennai have been recognized by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board — Thrishyiraya Recycling India Pvt Ltd, INAA Enterprises, AER World Wide (India) private Ltd, TESAMM Recyclers India Pvt Ltd and Ultrust Solution (I) Pvt Ltd.
In Mumbai, Eco Reco Company that has been authorized by Maharashtra Pollution Control Board is involved in the management of e-waste. It collects e-waste acrossIndiaand recycles it in an environment friendly manner. TCS, SBI, Castrol, M & M, Oberoi Groups of Hotels, Gati, Alfa Laval, Pfizer, HDFC, Aventis Pharma, GPEC, Tata Ficosa are recycling their e-waste with the help of Eco Reco.
SIMS Recycling Ltd. a multinational company has submitted a proposal to Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to solve the problem of e- waste in Pune city. It will collect and treat the e-waste in their recycling plant outsideIndia