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E-wasteland - The growing problem of e-waste in India

“It is vital that we prevent India from becoming the e-waste dustbin for the West”
Vinuta Gopal, Greenpeace India, 2006

20 – 50 million tons of electronic waste, known  as “e-waste” is generated annually worldwide. In Europe and the US, an old computer is thrown away, on average, every 2 years. In the US for every new computer bought, an old one is thrown away.

Each year, thousands of tons of old computers, mobile phones, batteries, cables, old cameras and other e-waste are dumped in landfill or burned. Thousands more are shipped, illegally, from Europe, the UK and the USA to India and other developing countries for ‘recycling’.  Some is sent as scrap, some as charity donations.

India has become one of the world’s largest dumping grounds for e--waste. E-waste is highly toxic. It contains lead, cadmium, mercury, tin, gold, copper, PVC and brominated, chlorinated and phosphorus based flame retardants. Many of these heavy metals and contaminants are extremely harmful to humans as well as to animals and plants.

The Basel Convention, of which the UK and India are signatories, bans the transportation of hazardous or toxic waste from the developed world to developing countries.

This illegal toxic trade is, therefore, in direct violation.