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Most Indians do not know what is e-waste, finds a Toxics Link report

New Delhi, 06 September, 2016: “Don’t know what is e-waste”, says every second person, according to a Toxics Link report ‘What India Knows About E-waste’ released today. Though e-waste is one of the most talked about waste issues globally, the study to assess awareness levels of e-waste among common citizens reveals that a majority of Indians are unaware of this toxic waste stream. The study, conducted across five metropolitan cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Chennai, mentions lack of awareness as a key reason behind poor e-waste management in the country.

The study also reports that even after four years of e-waste rules in force, 66% of people are ignorant about it. The rules, which mandates that e-waste should be disposed of only to authorized e-waste agencies, have not reached most people, especially in Kolkata, Delhi and Chennai, where 93%, 90% and 74% respondents respectively did not know anything about the legal framework and its provisions. The study further reveals that as many as 61% of the respondents are ignorant about the impacts of improper disposal of electrical and electronic equipment. “If this is the awareness level in the top five cities, then imagine the situation in smaller towns and cities”, said Priti Mahesh, Chief Program Coordinator, Clean Industry, Toxics Link, adding, “Lack of knowledge regarding the repercussions of improper disposal is leading to most consumers preferring the most convenient disposal route of selling their e-waste – kabaadiwalas or illegal collectors.” The study found that more than 50% people sell their e-waste to kabaadiwalas, a practice known to lead to informal recycling causing harm to humans and environment.

Though under the e-waste rules, producers have been assigned the responsibility of educating the consumers, the findings indicate that they have not been doing this very well. Product booklets or information from brands was not a big source of information for most aware consumers. This is a clear indication that the producers have not been diligent in fulfilling their responsibility.

“There is an urgent need to create awareness among consumers. The producers, government, and agencies responsible will have to make joint efforts to educate consumers and ensure improved compliance to rules on e-waste,” said Satish Sinha, Associate Director, Toxics Link.

News paper reports and information on the internet seem to be faring much better in educating public about e-waste as 50% of them quoted these as their source of information about the toxic waste stream.

The study also focused on awareness levels of different income groups — low, middle and high. It found awareness regarding toxicity was less among the LIG as compared to MIG and HIG,a clear indicationof the need to educate more people about e-waste, specially the less privileged.

“We also need to stress on regular awareness campaigns and drives to educate general public about their role in e-waste management, and the changing waste streams and its impact on health and environment, “added Satish Sinha.

Facts at glance

  • 2,030 respondents were interviewed, covering men and women from different economic sections and age groups 
  • Awareness about the issue and its toxicity was more among women than men. 58% women are aware of term, whereas only 45% men are familiar with it
  • Awareness regarding e-waste was less among the Low Income Group as compared to High Income Group
  •  In Kolkata, more than 84% participants are unaware about the impact of improper disposal of e-waste. Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai also fare poorly as far as awareness is concerned
  • Most people in Delhi (63%) and Kolkata(65%) still prefer to discard their e-waste by selling it to the local kabaadiwala
  • 66% of the participants across the five cities have no knowledge about the e-waste rules. 90% of the participants in Delhi are not aware of the existing rules on e-waste
  •  About 81% people in Mumbai felt manufacturers/producers are responsible for proper management of e-waste, while 94% in Kolkata felt it is the government’s responsibility

About Toxics Link (www.toxicslink.org)
Toxics Link is an environmental research and advocacy organization set up in 1996 by The Just Environment Charitable Trust. It lays a special emphasis on reaching out to numerous grassroots groups; community based organizations and the public at large through its empirical study-based information on Environmental issues. Toxics Link works closely with all other stakeholders who are working on similar issues and has played a seminal role in facilitating the development of several common platforms for them at the national, regional as well as international levels.

Download full report

For interviews and further information, please contact:

Priti Mahesh
Chief Programme Coordinator,priti@toxicslink.org

Aastha Elawadhi
Sr Communication Officer,aastha@toxicslink.org


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