The significant surge in dependency on technology has made ways for bringing ease to life. The new work models for remote and hybrid workers further amplified the demand for electronic gadgets. Faster upgradation to gadgets models and increasing need to ‘go digital’ is enforcing end consumers to discard their gadgets quicker than ever before, eventually adding up to e-waste mountains.
India has become one of the largest producers of e-waste, leaving behind China and the US. The recent data states – India has generated 1.71 million metric tons of e-waste as compared to 59.40 million metric tons of e-waste generated globally. The growing problem raises red flags to environmental sustainability and calls for a greater need to embed better e-waste management solutions.
Improper disposal of electronic gadgets
Technology is advancing at an unprecedented pace and with growing digital needs, brands are frequently releasing new models which cause people to upgrade their devices. Even a lot of electronic devices in proper working condition also become obsolete. The updated versions overshadow the previous versions of the gadgets and thus, they turn into waste. Electronic gadgets are not just the assembled motherboards, chargers, USBs, etc., they contain toxic substances that must be handled and disposed off properly when no longer needed.
The consequences of e-waste in landfills can be life-threatening to people’s health. It affects the air quality and can pollute the ecosystem for generations to come. Improper disposal can pose serious health concerns by releasing toxic chemicals, impacting the quality of human health and nature.
Challenges in e-waste disposal
Despite the implementation of e-waste rules in India, the process faces various infrastructural and regulatory challenges. Businesses bear significant compliance costs, both in terms of manpower and finances, leading to attempts to minimize their obligations. The limited waste management capacity further compounds the challenges, as the formal sector can only handle 0.4 million tons of e-waste compared to the annual generation of 1.6 million tons. Consequently, the collaboration between businesses and formal waste management companies is hindered. While the demand for electronic gadgets is high, adopting environmentally responsible e-waste handling practices can play a vital role in reducing carbon footprints during the production of new devices.
Refurbishing: A step more progressive than recycling
As the market is continuing to produce more gadgets, it is imperative to change the perspective towards handling them. For environmentally-conscious customers, refurbishing is becoming more evident in handling gadgets responsibly and contributing to the evolving circular economy space. Reusing e-waste can significantly create a positive effect on the current environment and refurbishing is emerging as one progressive step in making sure the waste does not end up in landfills and rather securely repurposed.
While on the other hand, recycling is considered an insufficient way of managing e-waste. Only 5% of the waste is recycled in the process while the remaining 95% of it makes its way to scrap dealers. Subsequently, users must understand that even powerful recycling processes produce some waste, harmful to the environment. Refurbishing, in that scenario, is still significant as the functioning parts of the gadgets are serviced and reused in new gadgets.
In recent years, refurbished electronics has made its way to the consumer market for its myriad of benefits. With technology advancements, electronic gadgets have seen a burgeoning demand among new-age customers. However, work from home culture involved every family into financial planning. Customers who once used to pay a hefty amount on upgrading to brand-new models of their older devices have now started understanding the value of money. This has led to a spike in the sale of refurbished gadgets.
Unlike second-hand devices, these refurbished gadgets undergo a series of technical and quality checks just like a brand-new gadget unboxed. It brings many inches closer to the mint condition that not only treats the environment responsibly but is also not heavy on the pocket. Many players are handling their job responsibly in increasing the credibility and durability of refurbished gadgets through extended warranty plans. This increases users’ interest without creating piles of e-waste.
Considering the ecological condition of the planet, there is a dire need to shift towards a circular economy. Consumers must consider discovering new and sustainable ways of handling e-waste to disrupt the present supply chain models, negatively impacting the environment. Refurbished gadgets can contribute significantly and help customers shift towards sustainability.