An upcoming report from the Basel Convention on transboundary movement of hazardous waste is said to show a “catastrophic accumulation of e-waste” that could prove to be hazardous.
“I’d say its something in the region of six billion tons, it’s a rough estimate,” said Katharina Kummer Peiry, executive secretary of the international agreement.
“E-waste did not even exist as a waste stream in 1989 and now it’s one of the largest and growing exponentially,” Peiry said.
The AFP reported that a UN Environment Program report found that the pileup of e-waste could soon reach 50 million tons per year.
“Add an increasing demand for electronic gaming, higher definition televisions or smart cars, and the result is a catastrophic accumulation of e-waste, now and into the future,” said the Basel Convention.
In late October, Indian officials held a two-day International Conference on Heavy metals and E-waste in New Delhi, during which Priti Mahesh, senior program officer of Toxic Link said e-waste is a “major problem and growing at the rate of 10 to 15 percent annually.”
“We think by 2010, the e-waste in India will go up to 800,000 tons,” said Mahesh.
With just six regular recycling facilities, India has only an annual recycling capacity of 27,000 tons, according to pollution control officials.
“The unmitigated use of heavy metals and toxics has a long-standing and far-reaching impact on the planet. It impacts our environment and human health directly. Sustainable and safe alternatives need to replace these dangerous chemicals immediately to safeguard the planet”, said Ravi Agarwal, Director of Toxic Link.
The group also found that as workers with bare hands dissemble e-waste, many of them become exposed to dangerous metals such as barium, lead, copper and cadmium.
“It’s already a problem and on its way to becoming worse because 97 percent of waste gets recycled in hazardous conditions,” said Mahesh.
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