Status of E-Waste Pickers & Informal Sectors(Kabadiwalas) : The informal sector plays very important role in waste management and recycling in India and it is well known that e-waste recycling is no exception to this with an estimated 95percent of e-waste being recycled through the informal sector. The informal e-waste recycling sector provides jobs to thousands of people in urban and semi-urban areas, and supports the formal waste management agencies like municipalities. During our field study we have found that a widespread and active network and considerable manual skills enable the existence of an informal network and provides jobs to many. But it involves many red practices which need to be accessed comprehensively and must be supported to make it more viable, sustainable & formal activities.
Problems identification: During our study it was revealed that small scrap dealers (Kabadiwalas) has engaged e-waste pickers and these pickers maintain the supply of e-waste flow from houses to kabadiwalas. These kabadiwalas purchase the collected electronic item per kg rate. The major problem associated with e-waste collection is these e-waste pickers visits the houses and asks for any old/discarded electronics. After when house owner brings it to these pickers they negotiate buying price and crushed it as they do with other plastic, papers, etc waste. Somehow, this is a very good practice to convince the owner that sold electronic item given is really nothing more than waste and low price offered is justified. The crushed electronic items reach to kabadiwalas they simply overlook it and offer the price as per kg of the components (Copper, Iron etc.).
Problems due informally handling & processing E-waste
- Potential electronic items go in to stream of E-waste due to ignorance by consumers and local e-waste pickers.
- E-Waste pickers does all only to convince the consumer/house hold owner
- Under valuation of Electronic products.
- Under valuation of Electronic waste
- Income loss to E-waste pickers
- Low trading value by Kabadiwalas
- Diversion potential and reusable electronic items to e-waste streams
- Informal practices used to recover precious metals only extracts 60% of it rest goes for land fill.
- Health hazards to worker involved in informal recycling
- Irregularities in jobs
This is real problems going on in each city of India most of these informal recyclers concentrate on one or two recycling stages with well established relationships to other informal e-waste recycling SMEs up or down the recycling chain. Value is added at each stage creating employment at different levels, thereby sustaining the system. The major problems throughout this existing linkage avoids the inclusion of small kabadiwalas and E-waste pickers, they are simply a prey for large recycling entities/companies. Our approach is to provide inclusive growth to these ignored people that is why we have developed the following model-
1. Providing them proper knowledge about Electronic Waste and occupational safety measures.
2. Train them to check workability of discarded electronics at prima facie.
3. Technical support at field level on call by Kabadiwalas.
4. Providing better market for recycling of E-waste.
5. To support for membership and authorization
For Health Hazards to people involved in E-Waste processing, read the report from Drug Today Link http://www.drugtodayonline.com/medical-news/nation/1992-e-waste-workers-suffer-from-respiratory-ailments-study.html