The growth in economic prosperity in developing countries has led to massive increase in volumes of waste. A transition from linear to circular economy will prove to be a major leap in waste management.
Excessive use of resources such as plastic and abandonment of outdated electronic equipments have strained waste managements systems. Landfills and illegal dumping have resulted in ecological hazards, along with severe economic losses in tourism, fisheries, and healthcare.
In recent years, municipalities in developing countries have struggled to manage the surge in volume of waste produced by their overcrowded cities.
Linear economy won’t be sustainable for very long since we are already quite close to exhausting our planet’s natural resources which were once abundant. Though terms like ‘circular economy’ and ‘sustainability’ are getting more popular among students, industries and the government, its implementation is still challenging developing countries.
As we get into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, technological advancement will revolutionize the way we carry out businesses and catalyse the development and implementation of circular business models. New channels of communication and operational efficiency will enable the reduction of resource use on a global scale.
With over 90% of waste managed in the unorganised sector by local businesses from marginalised communities, India already stands as the global leader in recycling and managing e-waste. However, prolonged exposure to toxic substances like mercury and lead present in e-waste can lead to major health issues.
About 80% of e-waste collectors in India suffer from respiratory illnesses. Out of them, there are over 500,000 children who are engaged in e-waste collection without appropriate protection. The ones who gain the least from technology are the ones handling the burden of electronic waste and suffering because of it.
Based on the concept of extended producer responsibility, the government has relaxed the regulations for management of e-waste and has notified Electronic Waste Rules in 2011 in order to streamline e-waste management.