Climate and Sustainability seperator

India’s insatiable appetite for smartphones, making it the world’s second largest phone market in the world, and its digital revolution, are contributing to a disturbing rise in the country’s e-waste mountain. Just last year, in 2019, India became the world’s third largest producer of e-waste, behind China and the U.S.

Inside the country’s over 280 million phone sales annually and nearly $200 billion IT industry, a parallel and informal economy employing millions of men, women and children, continues to dismantle the discarded phones and other electronic items, hunting for precious metals.

Hundreds of thousands of men, teenaged boys and women are employed in India’s unorganised e-waste recycling sector, hunting for precious metals such as lead, copper, aluminium, brass, silver and even gold from piles of motherboards, circuit boards, computer server cards.

At FactorDaily, we started tracking India’s e-waste conundrum in early 2016 with the story titled “This is Seelampur: India’s digital underbelly where your phones go to die”. Since then, India has risen from being the fifth biggest producer of e-waste in 2016, to the third largest in 2019.

FEATURED STORY

How the Phone You Chucked is Killing Seelampur

11 January 2021
The story of a teenage boy Aman is common among the 30,000 men, women and children who expose themselves to toxic fumes, acid splashes and lasting injuries in Seelampur, the town where all our old phones go to die.
Further coverage

They Don’t Make ‘em Like They Used To

11 January 2021
There are different ways to make gadgets deliberately obsolete; through its quality, its functionality, and/or its appearance. One of the common methods used by the electronics industry ‘designing for limited repair’.

Birds in data: Counting cuckoos and other stories

20 March 2019
Many legends abound about the monsoon in India — but none so delightful as that around the Jacobin pied cuckoo. A slender black and white cuckoo, the bird is easily identifiable with its long tail and distinctive crest. Even in flight, one can easily spot the bird by the white patches on its wings and […]

This is Seelampur: India’s Digital Underbelly Where Your Phones Go To Die

26 May 2016
Nearly a quarter of India’s three million tonnes of e-waste generated every year is dumped in Seelampur. If you live in north India, chances are high that the smartphone you bought last year and trashed because something better came along, went to die here.
FROM OTHER PROJECTS

This Yin and Yang of Screens

19 August 2022
We’ve never been more involved with our screens but is the relationship a healthy one? Even as Indians spent 4.7 hours on average on their phones in 2021, how much is too much?

Indian Teens Vent, Stan and Socialise on Discord

24 November 2021
Headquartered in San Francisco and founded in 2015, Discord is a platform that allows users to build and engage with like-minded members through chat, voice and video channels.

Birds in data: Counting cuckoos and other stories

20 March 2019
Many legends abound about the monsoon in India — but none so delightful as that around the Jacobin pied cuckoo. A slender black and white cuckoo, the bird is easily identifiable with its long tail and distinctive crest. Even in flight, one can easily spot the bird by the white patches on its wings and […]