E-Waste Recycling and Environmental Disasters

A random string of clicks I followed this morning was initiated by the startling news that only 15% of gold and silver from electronic waste is being recycled worldwide. That fact was published by the United Nations University (UNU) Institute for Sustainability and Peace (ISP) a few days ago:

At first I thought of the disastrous circumstances in Accra (Ghana), but India (amongst others) appears to be another epicentre of unsustainable e-waste management:

An article I found on e-waste management in India (Electronic Waste and India by Dr. S. Chatterjee) states that

  • Kerala is amongst the larger clusters of e-waste recycling,
  • 50,000 metric tonnes of e-waste are estimated to be imported by India annually,
  • 90% of e-waste recycling in India takes place on artisanal scale, and
  • the larger part of shredded printed circuit boards are re-exported for proper recycling (and value creation) to US or EU.

The Times Of India informs (2012-06-06) that in Kerala local bodies are to set up e-waste collection centres, but the only means of proper recycling currently is a facility in Bangalore.

I thought this article might be a random but interesting string of clicks. It is not meant to be a rant about lovely Kerala, because I know a few Keralaians, and I also know that their intention is to make Kerala and the rest of the world a better place.

In this case, Kerala stands for a lot of other places in India, Pakistan, China, Africa and elsewhere, where people are suffering because the “Northern” (i.e. European, North-American and Australian [sic]) industry, politics and consumers just do not care.