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e-Wastes Disposal & Recycling: Enabling resilience and Sustainable Environment
With the steady rise in adoption of digitalization across domains, thanks to the pandemic situation, e-waste is on a steady ride up the graph, showing growth in adoption of e-waste management policy laid down by the Government. A report by Poulami Chakraborty of BW Businessworld.
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Years back when digitalization and devices did not take over much in our lives, barely was any existence of e-waste concept. Over the years as and when we leveraged Information Technology IT and its application in a bigger way for our daily life engagement slowly but steadily the collateral adversity of the greatest boon ever kept on increasing, now bringing in policies and recommendations even at government level.
As per 2016 e-waste management policy, EPR (Extended Producer’s Responsibility) adopted is to, demarcate phase wise collection target to producers for the collection of e-waste, either in number or weight, which shall be 30 per cent of the estimated quantity of waste generation during first two year of implementation of rules followed by 40 per cent during third and fourth years, 50 per cent during fifth and sixth years and 70 per cent during seventh year onwards.
In view of this, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation recently introduced online tendering of scientific disposal of e-Wastes, which has certainly drawn interest from Government because of its much hazardous nature. As a matter of fact, the term e-Waste is coined for electronic and electrical items like computers, transformers, freezers, refrigerators, switches, TV, etc. or any hardware items, which has completed its life term and which have reached end of life. Such items toxic materials as arsenic, cadmium, acid etc., which requires recycling in a processed and organised manner.
Following the regulation laid for e-Waste management 2016, by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, the SDMC recently engaged the private firm through open tendering, which is a registered firm under Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)
On request to be quoted anonymously, senior official from South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) said, “The E-Waste should be disposed of in accordance with the timelines laid down by the GOI guidelines currently in force. On final disposal, the vendor would be required to provide a Certificate to this effect to the Corporation/Citizen concerned within 30 days after receipt of the e-Waste by electronic means. M/s RBH E-Waste Recycle Hub Pvt. Ltd. should follow environmentally sound practices for management of E-Waste as per GOI guidelines currently and future in force.”
As per the official, the vendor who is awarded the tender is liable and responsible collecting the e-waste material from offices of South DMC, North DMC and East DMC and from citizens of under the jurisdiction of the above authorities, through online requests only, which will be enabling the Government to keep a track on the measurement and the work in progress as per actual, which in the long run can be monitored by the authority. Going forward the IT Department of SDMC will be developing an online system for requesting and regulating the departments and citizen requests under a single page domain for better monitoring and control.
Similar measures are taken by the Department of Environment and Climate Change, Government of Bihar which has recently adopted measures that will be defining the states policies towards e-waste management. The state government there has authorised142 e-waste collection points in different parts of the state besides initiating awareness drives about hazardous impacts of e-waste.
As per studies, India generates about two million tons of e-waste annually ranking among the top five e-waste contributors world. Speaking to us on this the Principal Secretary of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of Bihar, Dipak Kumar Singh stated that in our country the e-waste management is majorly covered informally with more than 90 per cent of e-waste processed in environmentally hazardous practices. He further stated: “Recovering Copper and unwanted materials by burning cables in open air not only impacts environmental pollution but also bring in severe health hazards to operators, as well as common people. Disposal of such hazardous material material in open fields and at riverbanks is adding on to them being added inland and water. As a matter of fact, some of the e-waste is extremely complex in constitution and therefore can be difficult to recycle, and there is a lack of availability of environmentally sound recycling technologies.”
With its rising middle class population and zooming tech penetration across its all tier of cities, Bihar is a fast transforming state with a large electronics consumer market and very soon will turn out to be a prominent e-waste generator. In this view, he further added, “Not every state have electronic or equipment manufacturing units and therefore to cater similar needs, the e-Waste (Management) Amendment Rules, 2018, is rolled out. It states that if there are no production units in a ‘state’, then distributors should be responsible for recycling of e-waste.”
Though a lot of scope is there to harness the gap between the formal and informal approach to treat e-wastes, with a scientific approach, research and reality needs to meet at a common end to derive cost-effective methods to meet the current challenge and bring is further eco-friendly ways out towards the cause.