Corporate Social Responsibility

You cannot leave home without it

Today it’s impossible for us to leave home without our cell phones or laptops, and other electronic devices we use for communication, work, health or leisure. For habitual ‘road warriors’, it has become second nature to be on the move with a sackful of electronic gear. The days when a note book meant a bound paper pad used for scribbling in with a pen or pencil have all but disappeared amongst the youth. Even a generation earlier, telephone numbers (land lines only) would be jotted down in here, bank account numbers, people’s names and postal addresses, and reminders. Now, the devices store it all, on your instruction or from the cloud – the cell phone numbers and email ids of your friends and family, your bank manager, your passwords and passcodes, your work email, your friendly personal Gmail, your favorite pics, your passport details, your social media and your favourite tweets. This super-wired and wall-to-wall gadgeted world means a lot of hardware, big and small, and at the rate electronic fashions change, a good part of this becomes obsolescent – or so your trendier colleagues tell you – every six months.

Cell phone, laptops, iPhone, tablets (the non-medicine ones) are ubiquitous today in cities around the globe – the cell phone for instance is not just an appendage for urban dwellers. Today the cellphone is transforming rural economies too. Cellphone technology is now being used to fight poverty. In most of the developing world, and that means two thirds of the global population, the people that do not have bank account or are known as the “unbanked” population. Suddenly this population has access to financial services through mobile technology – likewise there are many innovative ways ewastetechnology is being used to help the small, rural farmer get access to markets, weather information and alerts.

ewasteOn a recent visit to Shoolagirivillage in Krishnagiri district, I asked some women in a Self Help Group, (SHG) how many of them had cell phones – with pride almost all of them raised their hands waving their cell phones.

Indeed, we are all getting upwardly mobile and technology is transforming the way we live, how we work and how we communicate. And this is the good news.

The bad news is that we are generating a whole lot of electronic waste that is piling up because technology becomes obsolete very rapidly. The entire world is discarding technology that has come to its end of life – from phones, to computers, to laptops, to TVs, to music systems, to motherboards, and all kinds of household appliances. When that happens, where does your suddenly ‘old’ gear go to? If it’s not tossed into a carton in the loft and forgotten, the chances are that it will make its way into a pile of electronic discards that grows bigger every day creating a there is a mountain of toxic waste.

So should we be concerned and act responsibly even though it is not our headache? The short answer is yes. Because computers and computer peripherals constitute the largest proportion of e-waste and pose a dangerous threat to our health and environment. What makes e-waste complex is that its waste has disparate materials, some highly toxic and some precious.

In India, as in most emerging economies, e-waste recycling is done by the informal sector and is exposed to hazardous work conditions. The vast majority working in this unofficial recycling sector are the vulnerable, urban poor, including women and children.

At CSS Corp, we are conscious of this burgeoning problem and are committed to doing our bit for responsible e-waste management. We are committed to using our electronic goods for a longer period of time, we return all our electrical goods to a certified and recogonised – e-waste recycler and above all, we build awareness among our employees to segregate waste wisely, and that includes e waste . As part of our community awareness building, we work with schools to make the kids aware of the e waste, we are engaged with our local community for better waste practices and engage with our employees too.

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