Dumping ground – India is a key importer of hazardous waste

Source: The post is based on the article “Dumping ground – India is a key importer of hazardous waste” published in Business Standard on 30th December 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Environment

Relevance: concerns with waste disposal in India

News: The article discusses the impact of waste imports in India and problems with their inadequate regulation.

What is the current situation?

A report by Bloomberg states that Muzaffarnagar in the U.P. is a major dumping ground for plastic waste from the US.

These plastic wastes are used by the paper mills in substitute to wood pulp as a cheaper raw material. The law also permits up to 2 percent contamination in recycled paper. However, this law is being misused by the mills.

Further, some materials that can be recycled are given to mills and others are sold as fuel to sugar and paper mills. 

The boilers and furnaces of these mills are not hot enough to fully incinerate this waste leading to toxic emissions. Therefore, the residents of Muzaffarnagar inhale ash filled air with microplastics on a regular basis.

Another highlight of the report was the problem with domestic as well as imported e-waste. As per a UN report, up to 90 percent of the world’s electronic waste is deposited in India.

Some of the e-wastes are recycled and rests are burnt leading to the contamination of the air. This is happening even though the government banned the import of e-waste under rules notified in 2016.

These wastes provide a source of livelihood to ragpickers, unlicensed contractors, raddiwalas, etc. but they also get exposed to health hazards caused by it.

What is the way ahead?

There is a need to properly enforce the laws and provide a monitoring mechanism against this practice. However, concerns of recycling companies and the livelihood of rag pickers should also be kept in mind.

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