Chapter 4 discussion questions

From Toxic to Green: Turning Mountains of E-Waste into Green Jobs

Bharati Chaturvedi

In this chapter, Bharati Chaturvedi discusses ways to improve conditions in the electronics industry at the point of destruction and recycling. Chaturvedi examines the work of Chintan, a non-profit organization based in India that works in partnership with workers in the informal sector of the recycling industry in India. Chintan aims to help workers ‘convert waste into social wealth.’ Chaturvedi analyzes the impact of legislative changes in the disposal of electronic waste, and the ways in which Chintan is helping workers in the informal sector to partner with manufacturers and consumers, in order to create ‘green jobs’ in the context of the new regulatory environment. To do this, Chintan is creating new strategies and partnerships with generators, the government and with recyclers. The chapter argues that amid legislative changes intended to reduce hazards in electronic waste disposal, workers in the informal sector are subject to increased regulation, which places this vulnerable population at risk of losing their livelihood. The chapter presents a model for social change based on harnessing environmental legislation to benefit poor and disenfranchised populations, and the significant challenges and setbacks involved in doing so.



  1. What is meant by Chintan’s goal of ‘converting waste into social wealth’? How does social wealth differ from economic wealth?
  2. What are the benefits and consequences of moving from the informal to the formal sector?
  3. How does legislation aimed at improving environmental standards impact on different segments of the labor market?
  4. Can you think of other examples where improvements to environmental standards may negatively impact on workers in the informal sector?
  5. How can NGOs support workers and environmental protection at the same time?