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Williams College

Publication Date

Spring 2014

Program Name

India: Sustainable Development and Social Change

Abstract

The fast pace of innovation both within India and abroad, along with the increasing affordability of electronic goods due to economic growth, has led to the rapid turnover of these consumer goods and thus enormous amounts of electronic waste (or e-waste). In addition to the sheer volume that must be managed, electronics contain highly toxic chemicals that complicate the waste handling process and can be detrimental to human health and the environment. However, India has only recently implemented regulations that directly address this issue through the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). Public awareness of this government policy and e-waste hazards is key to both active participation in management systems and the ability to put pressure on producer compliance. Thus, the study here attempts to assess this aspect of the e-waste situation through personal interviews with Indian families in Ahmedabad, a large city in Gujarat. Insight from government officials, NGO representatives, and formal and informal e-waste processing workers were also sought in order to give the general public interviews a structural context. It was found that most respondents do not participate in formal e-waste recycling systems, do not know specific details about the health and environmental hazards of e-waste, and do not know about the 2011 e-waste legislation. Additionally, only about one quarter acknowledge the possibility of extracting raw materials or spare components from unused electronics. Thus, government bodies must invest more in creating a public with greater knowledge of and agency in India’s e-waste issue.

Disciplines

Environmental Health and Protection | Technology and Innovation

 

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