Unfortunately, ‘recycling’ of e-waste often means the crude dismantling of e-waste under extremely hazardous conditions. To help address this growing global problem, SVTC is teaming up with Chintan Environmental Research Action Group on a project to document the informal recycling sector in India and push for comprehensive waste management policies that protect workers and the environment.
Currently, the majority of e-waste collected for recycling in the U.S. is shipped to countries such as China, India, South korea, Nigeria, Malaysia, Mexico, Vietnam and Brazil. This waste contains a wide range of hazardous chemicals, including lead, mercury and brominated flame retardants. Delhi and Mumbai, India, are premier destinations for U.S. e-waste. “Men and women pick out, burn and smash e-waste with their bare hands”according to Chintan Executive director Bharati Chaturvedi, and this exposure to toxic chemicals is having an increasing health impact.
The documentation project will collect key health and environmental data that Chintan and workers can use to support their fight for protection and better conditions. A public hearing is planned in New Delhi to address the risks these workers face and to raise awareness of the dangers e-waste recycling poses to the environment. The hearing is designed to amplify the voices of those whose health and communities are most directly threatened.
The project will also produce a video documentary – spotlighting interviews with workers and community members – designed to bring a powerful message to U.S. consumers and policy makers about the devastating impact of our e-waste.