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India's wave of e-waste

Subcontinent covering itself in WEEE

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India's production of high-tech waste is far higher than previously thought, according to a report by Delhi-headquartered environmental organisation Toxics Link.

The report claims that the country now generates around 150,000 tonnes of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) a year, including computers, TVs, fridges, and washing machines. This is on top of all the e-waste shipped into the country from elsewhere under the guise of scrap or second-hand goods, Toxic Link director Ravi Agwarwal said.

He said the worst culprit is the commercial and financial capital of Mumbai, although much of its WEEE is then shipped to Delhi which has become India's main recycling base - thanks in part to the slack enforcement of laws banning hazardous waste processing in residential areas.

Agwarwal claimed that Toxic Link's research showed Mumbai was discarding much more electronic waste than had been estimated, and he called for India to install "proper and adequate e-waste management systems".

He added that because India currently has no organised alternative for recycling, most of the country's WEEE finds its way into the "informal sector". This poses serious pollution and health risks as it involves crude methods for dismantling and storage, minimal capital input, and zero health and environmental safeguards. ®

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