Lack of Awareness Hampers E-Waste Management in the City

City Environment

Bangalore, April 10, 2018: With a huge number of industries and IT companies, Bengaluru generates a large quanity of electronic waste; it is a major chunk of the waste generated in Bengaluru.

E-waste refers to discarded electronic devices such as computers, mobiles, printers, television sets, etc. However, e-waste management in the city has several flaws. Disposal is a difficult and dangerous task.

Improper disposal of e-waste has severe affects not on only human health but the environment as well. A research paper by Ramachandra T.V. and Saira Varghese K. published by the Indian Institute of Science, titled ‘Environmentally Sound Options For E-wastes Management’, says: “Disposal of e-waste is a particular problem faced in many regions across the globe. Computer wastes that are landfilled produces contaminated leachates which eventually pollute the groundwater. Acids and sludge obtained from melting computer chips, if disposed on the ground causes acidification of soil.” The paper also lists a number of health hazards related to e-waste such as ‘damage to central and peripheral nervous system, blood systems and kidney’, ‘affects brain development in children’, ‘muscle weakness’, ‘damage to heart, liver, spleen’ and number of other health issues.

Tohid Pasha, Manager of E-Firendly Waste Recyclers, an e-waste management firm in Nayandahalli, told The Observer, “Our firm started in 2014. There has been a significant increase in the e-waste generated in the city over the years. In spite of so many e-waste management companies in the city, e-waste has not been reduced much. Both the common people and the IT companies generate e-waste but they generally do not take any steps to ensure that it reaches the formal e-waste management sector. Instead, it often goes to the informal sector. Most of the companies try to dispose the e-waste that they have generated on their own instead of passing it over to companies like ours which are better equipped to deal with it. This results in improper collection and management of e-waste.”

Syed Shahabuddin, Managing Partner at Intro Tech Recycling in Kumbalgodu, said, “We started in 2013. I have been working in this field for the last 12 years. Every year there is a sharp increase in the amount e-waste generated in the city- almost 5-10 per cent, I would say.  In Karnataka, 90,000-95,000 metric tonne of e-waste is generated per year. I don’t think the e-waste management sector has grown sufficiently to deal with this amount of e-waste. There is a lot of outsourcing and illegal activities such as companies without proper certification receiving the metal for recycling. The major part of the waste goes to the informal sector. The main problem is the companies, especially the smaller ones, do not get proper information on e-waste and they often do not know what to do with the e-waste that they have produced. They lack awareness about the environmental hazards of e-waste and the harmful contents of it.”

“Few companies have come together to form an group called All India E-Waste Recycling Association where every month we plan to conduct an awareness program in different parts of the city, be it schools or industries. We have about 40 members right now. We focus on basic questions like what is e-waste, how is it generated, and so on”, he added, speaking about what is being done to combat the situation.

Abdul Wahan, company partner at E-Hasiru, another e-waste management firm in the Peenya Industrial Area had similar observations to make. “We try our best to recycle the e-waste generated in the city. There are about 58 e-waste recycling and dismantling companies in Bangalore. Earlier, most of the e-waste would go to the informal sector comprising mostly of rag pickers who are not equipped to deal with such waste. But nowadays, the government is stricter so almost 70% of the waste generated is reaching the formal sector. The trouble is most companies are not aware of proper disposal methods. There is an association in Bangalore now called the All India E-Waste Recycling Association which is trying to spread awareness among the companies that generate e-waste.”

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