Opt for refurbished items to curb global e-waste tsunami

The constant advancement in the field of science & technology has introduced us all to tons of electronic devices and appliances that have now become a necessity in the 21st century. However, as much of a boon, they have proved to be, the disposal and management of electronic equipment have become one of the biggest challenges of today.


According to the global E-waste monitor, an estimate of  55.5 Mt of E-waste was generated globally, but only 17.4% of it is documented to be collected and disposed of properly while the remaining 44.3Mt of global e-waste is still not documented.  Most of it accumulates in the property of people and ultimately gets dumped in landfills, regular waste disposal sites. Electronic waste, unlike the organic or non-biodegradable ones, poses much more threat to the environment on a certain number of grounds: They have many radioactive materials incorporated in their structure and thus can emit radiation in the atmosphere, or can seep into the ground, eventually reaching the water bed or even changing the composition of the soil. Among the most common substances found in the discarded items are lead, cadmium, antimony, lead oxide, mercury and nickel. These toxic elements end up causing pollution in the rivers, lakes and seas and release gasses that upset all ecosystems. Humanity has already suffered many times on account of mixing up of these elements in the soil and water, leading to deadly diseases like Minamata.

It is high time now that we address this rising menace and focus on sustainable measures to tackle the serious problem related to e-waste. One of the possible measures one can opt for is to consider second-hand goods or refurbished electronic gadgets. In India, the second-hand goods market is vastly unorganized and is run locally by small and local shop-owners. But online platforms such as OLX and Quikr have provided space for sellers & buyers to meet and trade and have proven to be an effective alternative. Currently, the e-commerce giants such as Amazon & Flipkart have entered the market and are selling refurbished electronic items to their consumers across the country.  

​​According to the research by Counterpoint, India has witnessed a growth of 14% with approximately 14 lakh second-hand smartphones sold in 2019. Industry watchers claimed that the trend & demand for second-hand smartphones is going to rise due to the rising prices of new advanced gadgets & the ongoing economic downfall due to the pandemic, Russia-Ukraine war. The data showed that vehicles comprise a 60% share, while electronic gadgets have 25% and other household items contribute 15% in the second-hand goods market.

Advantages of opting for refurbished items

The refurbished electronic items are as good as new ones, claimed by the e-commerce giants such as Amazon & Flipkart. Unused or slightly used products are refurbished by experts to fully working condition and then listed on these platforms as ‘renewed’ products for the consumers.

One of the major advantages of buying these goods is the price of these electronic items. ​​The data shared by the QuickrBazar shows that these “refurbished electronic items are sold for 20-30 per cent and sometimes up to 50 per cent less than their original price tags” hence making them an attractive deal for the consumers. 

Neeraj Chopra, Founder of Zobox highlighted the rising market for refurbished goods during this pandemic period and said, “The market size of used items has grown by 375 per cent after the Covid-19 outbreak, and the demand-supply chain gap has changed the entire industry's working scenario. Everybody wants to buy cheaper, hence used items, which cost almost 50 per cent less than their original counterparts, so these are   in high demand.”

Minimizing carbon footprint: The demand for these electronic gadgets is expected to grow exponentially over the coming years and that for sure means the global carbon footprint meter is going to touch the highest mark the world has ever seen. In order to contain this possibility, individual efforts are required and consuming refurbished & second-hand goods seems to be a viable option. The demand for second-hand goods will create a direct impact on the manufacturing of the new electrical goods as the demand for the same could witness a decline. 

Way forward 

The rising menace of E-waste is rapidly occupying the global space and is affecting the environment with its toxic emissions like methane, carbon and various other elements. To curb the situation and mitigate the crisis,  consistent measures must be taken. The policymakers must act towards the same and build a system for proper management of E-waste disposal and management. Stricter protocols must be asked to follow by the major technical giants functioning in this domain. Subsidies could be a smart solution for the electricals industry if they promote E-waste management at their respective levels.

As responsible individuals, we must re-evaluate our needs and limit ourselves from buying unnecessary gadgets instead we must look for a single gadget with multiple uses or opt for second-hand goods & refurbished electrical items to maintain the global carbon footprint in control and keep this rising tsunami of electrical waste at bay. With collective effort and changed policies at a global level, this problem can be rectified for sure.

Written By:

Manvender Pratap Singh

Manvender is a passionate content creator with a journalism degree who has a knack for developing human-interest content. In the past, he was involved with a National News Channel and a video production company and has experience in writing, designing and video production.

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