Proper disposal of e-waste and the right approach towards it is crucial. Their hope for a greener and cleaner future has prompted local representatives, RWAs as well as NGOs in south Delhi to adopt safer methods for e-waste disposal. Andrew Ganj councillor Abhishek Dutt has recently initiated a drive to establish e-waste collection centres along with NGO Chintan.
Dutt has also requested a couple of RWAs to place empty boxes/cartons at their offices to collect e-waste. The RWA members have also been given the responsibility to promote the concept of recycling of e-waste and to educate residents about the hazardous effects of faulty disposal practices
The RWAs have started two centres in Anand Lok and South Extension-2. “We are usually unaware of the safe manner in which e-waste can be disposed of. We often sell it to junk dealers. But the dealers don’t know the right way to handle e-waste, which results in the release of hazardous gases/chemicals. Most of these chemicals are non-biodegradable and have lasting effect on nature. We aim to motivate people to donate/sell e-waste to recognised collectors only,” said Dutt, who plans to open more centres with the RWAs in Defence Colony and neighbouring areas soon.
NGO Chintan has come forward to collect the e-waste from RWA offices. The NGO, Chintan, has been authorised by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) as one of the ‘e-waste collector’ in Delhi. The NGO had recently organised a workshop in Anand Lok, where the representatives explained the importance of safe e-waste disposal to the residents. They were also informed about the harm that mishandled e-waste causes to the environment.
“We had screened a short film that featured stories around the informal recycling sector. Many recycling centres in Seelampur, Mustafabad and Shastri Park are not adhering to the norms,” said Chitra Mukherjee, head of the programme, operation, NGO Chintan. According to him, these centres hire unskilled workers and employ rudimentary methods to treat the waste.
Pankaj Gupta, president of Anand Lok RWA, said, “On day one itself many people came to drop e-waste and also asked relevant questions regarding its disposal.”
Apart from the recently-opened centres, the NGO is also in touch with the RWA of Vasant Vihar and South Extension-2, C block for waste collection. “It has been one-and-a-half year since we established a collection centre at Kalyan Kendra, Vasant Vihar and every month we are collecting about 50-60 kg of e-waste,” said a member of Chintan.
According to Suresh Goel, president of Federation of Vasant Vihar RWAs, messages are regularly sent to educate residents about e-waste management. “More and more people have started dropping CFL bulbs, old CDs, keyboards, laptops, printers, music systems and other gadgets in these boxes,” he said.
The e-waste collected by the NGO from residential areas, corporates, schools is then sent to the authorised recyclers of electronic waste.
E-waste (Management and Handling) Rules and regulations
As per E-waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011, waste electrical and electronic equipment, whole or in parts or rejects from their manufacturing and repair process, are supposed to be safely disposed of. “But in the absence of proper enforcement of the rules, people act recklessly,” said Mukherjee. The ministry of environment, forests and climate change has issued new e-waste management rules which will be effective from October 1, 2016.
“We have a lot of expectations from this law. The key features of the rules are extended producer responsibility, which means the producer will be responsible for the electronic items even after it become non-usable. Further, it will need to produce recycled articles. The rule also requires the bulk consumers of electronic and gadget items to file returns annually and keep collection target (for 70% material) in seven years. It will change the scenario,” said Mukherjee.
What is electronic waste or e-waste?
Discarded electrical or electronic devices like mobile phones, computers, music system and televisions form e-waste. Used electronics which are destined for reuse, resale, salvage, recycling or disposal are also considered as e-waste.
Why formal processing/recycling?
Recycling and disposal of e-waste involves risk to workers. Hence great care is required to avoid unsafe exposure in recycling operations and leaking of materials such as heavy metals from landfills and incinerator ashes.
The formal processing of electronic waste involves dismantling the equipment into various parts (metal frames, power supplies, circuit boards, plastics), often by hand, but increasingly by automated shredding equipment. This helps in saving the workable and repairable parts, including chips, transistors, RAM, etc. It is then shredded to separate constituent metal and plastic fractions, which are sold to plastics recyclers. Some of the emissions are caught by scrubbers and screens. Magnets, eddy currents are employed to separate glass, plastic, and nonferrous metals, which can then be further separated at a smelter. Hazardous smoke and gases are captured, contained and treated to mitigate environmental threat.
Benefits of Recycling
Recycling raw materials from end-of-life electronics is the most effective solution to the growing e-waste problem. Most electronic devices contain a variety of materials, including metals that can be recovered for future uses. By dismantling and providing reuse possibilities, intact natural resources are conserved and air and water pollution caused by hazardous disposal is avoided. Additionally, recycling reduces the amount of greenhouse gas emissions caused by the manufacturing of new products.
Side effects of informal reprocessing
Damaging the electronic items haphazardly and without proper machines to extract the metals and other valuable items is called informal processing. It can lead effect health of those involved and has detrimental impact on environment. It can result in release of heavy metals like lead, cadmium, mercury, chemicals into the soil and groundwater. Most of these are non-recyclables and threat to public health.