Consider this: A staggering 130 million phones were sold in India in 2009 alone, making it one of the largest mobile phone markets in the world. And a recent study by Gartner estimates that the Indian mobile market will expand to 737 million subscribers by 2012. While this would inherently ensure better communication giving a fillip to economic activity in the country, it's also now posing a big challenge of a different kind—managing the e-waste from discarded handsets.
WHY IT'S A PROBLEM
What's more worrying are the improper ways in which this waste is recycled in the country. Mobile phone waste, like most e-waste, is recycled by informal, uneducated workers using primitive techniques like open burning and acid baths that cause environmental contamination.
Globally, most mobile phone companies have take-back systems, through which they collect discarded phones and ensure safe recycling. In India only few companies provide this facility. Take-back schemes, along with reduction in the use of toxic materials in manufacturing, will be highly effective in reducing the risks associated with recycling this waste.
THE WAY OUT