Toxic tales: As aspirations grow, digital India swamped by e-waste

While consumers are aware about e-waste, they are not aware of the value it commands | Image - Eunice Dhivya

Sitting in a small rented shop in Yarab Nagar to the south of Bangalore city, Aasha Vadivelu and four of her family members sort through dry waste every day. For the poor family that has been dependent on waste segregation for livelihood for decades, things are turning for the better in the last few years.

A rapid rise in mobile phone usage and the growing trend of quick disposal—because of poor quality or to adapt to newer technologies—has resulted in higher electronic-waste generation. An ASSOCHAM–KPMG study suggests that mobile phone e-waste accounts for close to 12% of the electronic dump annually.

For Aasha and her family, it’s an opportunity that has helped them grow economically, and skill-wise too.

Every quarter, they collect roughly about 750 kgs of e-waste that includes mobile chargers, batteries, chips, computer equipment, speakers, TV sets and electronic home appliances, most of which are categorised as low value goods.

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