Where’s your e-waste going?

Hand over e-waste to authorised recyclers | Photo Credit: Baranozdemir

Sanshodhan E-Waste Exchange provides last mile connectivity between individuals/organisations and authorised e-waste management units

 

A couple of defunct mobile phones, an outdated tablet or laptop that perhaps didn’t fetch a decent price in exchange offers, some pieces of cable are just a few things that might be gathering dust in the household, unless you’ve gone the extra mile to ensure that your e-waste reaches an authorised e-waste management unit.

Telangana Pollution Control Board’s website (tspcb.cgg.gov.in) lists e-waste dismantlers authorised by the government. But, not every electronic waste needs to go to dismantlers. Some can be refurbished, some parts can be recycled and some portions need to be thrashed.

So, how does one know an ideal e-waste disposal unit and ensure the waste doesn’t end up in landfills or with the informal sector that breaks it down harming both the environment and the health of the e-waste handlers?

An assessment puts the e-waste generated in Telangana at an estimated 25000 to 28000 metric tonnes per annum.

Bridging the gap

Sanshodhan E-waste Exchange was formally launched in February 2018 at the T-hub to ensure last mile connectivity between individuals and organisations wanting to dispose e-waste and recyclers authorised by the state government.

The organisation encourages people to come forward and hand over their electronic waste. “The idea is to work at different levels to support the E-waste Management Rules 2016, Government of India, and E-Waste Management Policy 2017 released by government of Telangana,” says Shalini Sharma, a doctorate in environment science, management and policy, honorarily associated with Sanshodhan. The organisation operates in Delhi-NCR region, Lucknow and Hyderabad and intends to expand its reach to other cities.

Green quotient

Talking to us ahead of addressing an event organised by Goethe Zentrum last week, she looked at the different dimensions of the e-waste menace. She puts the estimated e-waste per annum at 25000 to 28000 metric tonnes, going by an earlier assessment shared by the state pollution control board.

At an individual level, an appropriate e-waste disposal translates to satisfaction in being a responsible citizen. At an organisational level, different parameters come to play. “Small and medium scale businesses can be confused with the details of the e-waste policy. We can step in to create awareness and help them dispose the waste,” she says, and explains the road ahead: Electronic items given away by an organisation are packed with serial numbers to track their journey. It is possible to know how much of the waste is being recovered, refurbished and can either be re-used or donated, or ends up as thrash. Organisations can also track where the heavy metals are going.

The data obtained from this tracking can be used in annual reports of large organisations to enhance their green image internationally. “It’s good to know one hasn’t contributed to emission of green house gases or the waste hasn’t been handled by the informal sector. Refurbishing can make way for upcycling of e-waste,” Shalini Sharma points out.

What you can do
  • As an eco-conscious citizen, you may want to ensure that your obsolete electronics don’t end up polluting the environment, but may not know the dos and don’ts. Sanshodhan can facilitate that process.
  • Go online (www.e-wasteexchange.com) or leave a message on their helpline number 8874299358. On their portal, check the individuals/residential complexes section to see a list of electronics that can be given away.
  • If it’s a residential complex, organise an e-waste collection during the weekend and the organisation’s representatives will come and collect the articles. You get a nominal amount in exchange of the products as well.

Grey areas

In its partnership with the state government, Sanshodhan looks forward to help maintain an inventory of e-waste disposal. “The organisation works with a futuristic view to help this inventory process, which is necessary to assess e-waste policy compliance at a national level,” she explains.

While corporate giants have a larger role to play in safe e-waste management, there are a few grey areas that are continuing to be addressed by policy makers and those working in the environment sector. For instance, how does one categorise a range of equipment in a hospital? “It essentially falls under e-waste category. One needs to separate the plastic from other materials. Until recently LED lights were not identified as e-waste. Similarly, more products are likely to be added to the list in the coming years. Solar panels, again, are not categorised as e-waste,” Shalini points out.

Management of e-waste and its documentation will help electronic goods manufacturers meet their EPR or Extended Producer Responsibility target. In a country like ours, it’s a gigantic exercise to track the life cycle of every product sold. But soon, all this will begin to matter.

Source: The Hindu

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