3Rs For E-Waste


In the last twenty years, computers have revolutionized our daily life. In our every day life we use cell phones, sit in front of various screens like our PCs, television sets etc. and use our microwaves and fridges for keeping ourselves well fed quickly. Travel reservations have become so easy with the computers and cellular phones.

The other thing that we do is replace our mobiles, computers, fridges, washing machines etc. more frequently than we need to. My mother uses a fridge she got in 1989, while I have changed 4 since then. I have to have the most recent good looking fridge as my friends have it. I have to keep up with the latest. Same goes for cell phones, computers, stereos and microwaves. This consumerism is great for our city and economy as it increases demand which in turn boosts our economy and maintains a good growth.

But every solution to an old problem is a new problem. This consumerism gives rise to electrical and electronic or the e-waste. It is one of the fastest growing waste stream in the world. It needs appropriate treatment and disposal facilities that we do have in our country, as per the legal requirements. We also have a Law.

What is missing is that there are not enough Kabadiwalas to reuse, recycle and dispose e-waste safely. This waste contains over 1000 different substances. The long term health impact of e-waste is cancer. Why are there not enough Kabadiwalas? Because there is not enough demand for its treatment.

ecycling ewaste

In the past when there were fewer cars in Delhi, old car batteries producing lead were simply thrown away. But over time, when the number of old batteries increased with an exponential increase in the number of cars, there came, Kabadiwalas who processed it to extract lead and which is a ‘dirty’ but lucrative business.

What can we do? What we can do is to recognize this impacts of our actions and overcome the barriers to inventing a future of e-waste free environment. The biggest barrier is peer pressure to buy newer, better, latest things. Second barrier is indifference to the impact or our actions on the environment. The solution, like for any environmental problem, is to reduce, reuse and recycle. We as consumers can reduce. We can postpone decision to buy an electronic gadget like computer, cell phone or its upgrade. It will be cheaper for you. Use the gadgets till they ‘die’. As part of their last rites ask the shop keeper or the Kabadiwala, when he takes it away, how he plans to dispose it off and suggest recycle and reuse of substances extracted from it. Be aware and start asking questions.


Environmental anthropologist by training, been in the field for over 20 years, Gialome (pseudonym) is mainly concerned with the impacts of infrastructure and technology projects on local communities.

8 thoughts on “3Rs For E-Waste

  1. Pingback: E-Waste Management Rules, 2016 Notified by Government of India
  2. thanku but i really want to know about the list .i keenly interested in dis and want to teach my student too kindly send the link

  3. Thanks for this info Sonia….I visited the cpcb website, but was unable to find this list of e-waste recyclers. Could you kindly forward the link of the page that has this list….would really appreciate it.
    I did now know that these people also take tubes and CFL’s . That was useful to learn..Thanks


  4. Pingback: :: Delhi Greens :: » MoEF Invites Suggestions on Draft E-Waste Management Rules 2010
  5. must say this is a great article, but just to add, i would like to say that now delhi too have formal e-waste recyclers approved by the CPCB. you can find the whole list on the CPCB site, i know a recycler in gurgaon “earth sense recycler pvt.ltd.”, they do the e-waste recycling and now they are comming up with there e-waste collection centers, one can drop there waste at these centers and get them recyclered in proper manner.

    they have tieups with few schools also like St. Pauls school in hauz khas and Chranjivi bharti school in sushant lok gurgaon, you can also drop your waste to them instead of giving to kabadiwalas.

    if not everything at least we can collect the waste CFL & Tubelights from our homes and offices and save the hazardous mercury going into sewarage lines or on lands.

    Sonia Duhan

    Tranee at TERI

  6. Greetings from Uttarakhand Himalayas,

    Hats off for the thought, so as a solution what can we do of this e-waste, i can offer one small suggestion for at least old but working computers, printers, digital cameras, scanners and lcd progectors. That is, give it to rural schools so that these young people could use it for skill enhansment.

    Friends we at ARCH “Action & Research for Conservation in Himalayas” is working with young minds on lot of conservation and environmental issues and school kids from remote villages are our target groups, so any sharing of old used machines can become of real value to these vilage kids so my appeal to all you good people who are from the corporate world and are planning to upgrade your office equipment just inform us and we’ll help you in giving it to village school children, who’ll greatly benefit from your gesture.

    Do some dharam karam this way and make a small difference in lot of lives.

    Prateek Panwar
    Founder Trustee
    Action & Research for Conservation in Himalayas
    MDDA Duplex Villa # 3, Sahastradhara Road,
    Opp. Petrol Pump, Dehradun, Uttarakhand 248001 INDIA

    Tel# 9412054216, (0135)2114649
    Email: arch.himalayas@yahoo.co.in, arch.birdcount@yahoo.in

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