Skip to content Skip to footer

The informal recycling scene: challenges and opportunities posed for sustainability.

The Informal recycling industry: The informal recycling industry poses several hazards and challenges, it also is relatively unregulated and thus results in various issues, challenges, opportunities as well:

Export to third world or poorer less developed countries/locations:Among the widely reported burdens are export en masse of E-waste to third world or poorer, less developed countries/locations. The poorer less developed communities in these locations may organise their activity around these landfills, and the workers also suffer from health issues arising from ingestion and reception of toxic metals within the electronics. The toxicity and hazardous chemicals would leach into the soil/water bodies and affect the environment.Precious metal scrap processors: a provision towards E-waste recycling.
Inefficient disposal:The informal disposal and recycling economy is relatively inefficient. Most work and efforts are carried out by hand and with workers utilising physical labour.
Informal E-waste recyclers are not integrated within efficient networks:Informal E-waste recyclers are not integrated within efficient networks. This can result in large amounts of wasted material not being recycled, dismantled effectively. Informal E-waste recyclers may or may not fall under the category of enterprise recycling
Informal E-waste workers are possessing unverified and widely varying levels of experience:Among the various upsides are that informal E waste workers are experienced and possess specialised knowledge, however this would be limited mostly to their informal procedures, it may be of benefit to recyclers and recycling facilities in aiding productivity, processes, or provision of novel insight and methodology. Including for the plastic material recovery facility.
Informal E-waste disposal lacks scientific knowledge, apparatus, architecture and infrastructure to dispose effectively of toxic chemicals:Informal E-waste disposal lacks the requisite scientific knowledge/expertise and apparatus to effectively eliminate, dispose of the toxic chemicals.
Dangerous working conditions associated for workers:In the informal recycling sector, individuals are essentially relegated to working in landfills with very little in the provision for safety or protection. The dangerous working conditions and lack of protection means various workers have work related injuries: musculoskeletal disorders, lung disorders, metal poisoning and toxicity. Endeavor recyclers is among the renowned E-waste management companies in India.
Lack of support structures from civil or government authorities:Most E-waste sites tend to be located in developing countries where there is a direct lack of support structures from civil or government authorities. There may not be any support provided for workers injured or exposed to heavy metals in E-waste. 
E-waste landfills provide opportunities for reeducation:Due to the relatively large numbers of individuals employed formally and informally in the E-waste sector, there are definite opportunities for reeducation and initiatives, to enable shifting and transformation to more regulated, structured environments and proper recycling facilities for electronic waste disposal.
Opportunities to gain novel insights and knowledge:Often various workers in the informal E-waste sector are possessing novel insights and knowledge. The individuals may be able to propel development of research and development, or provide methodology and training/instruction to new entrants and those individuals researching the field of E-waste. A rich human capital with specific experience exists.
Integration to the formal E-waste sector and proper recycling life cycle channels:The opportunity for integration to formal E-waste sector and proper recycling life cycle channels exists as the informal E-waste sector may not pose significant barriers to entry and the processes involved are not overly complex. Via integration to the formal E-waste sector, there would be resultant integration with recycling facilities and proper recycling life cycle channels, enabling a reduction in landfills, improvements in worker health and well-being, and possible benefits to the government in forms of revenue, taxation, recognition and experience. 
Limiting environmental impact:Through addressing the informal E-waste sector there would be a limiting of environmental impact resulting directly from E-waste.

Conclusion: The informal recycling industry/scene presents various challenges and opportunities within it. Enabling an understanding and awareness can assist in the transformation and effective contribution towards sustainability and improve recycling overall in communities where E-waste landfills are prevalent. Recycling firms can also benefit tremendously through investigations and collaborating with the informal E-waste industry to various extents.