For those who have been wondering what to do with the electronic waste lying at home, here’s some hope.
A Delhi-based company has launched the country’s first helpline dedicated to safe and environment-friendly disposal and recycling of e-waste — old, dead computers, keyboards, monitors, TVs and the like.
Dial toll-free 1800-419-3283, to get your electronic waste picked up from home and recycled at a factory in Roorkee, without letting any of the toxic elements sully the environment.
“The government says India is sitting on an inventory of hundreds of tonnes of electronic waste,” said Rohan Gupta, chief operating officer of Attero Recycling.
“It means, people either do not know what to do with their e-waste, or sell it off to scrap-dealers for want of an alternative,” he added.
From scrap dealers, e-waste goes to unauthorised recycling yards — usually houses in slums in Delhi and Mumbai — where labourers (including children) manually tear apart, burn and melt the components of an electronic item to anything of value.
They extract valuable metals like copper, silver, gold and anything else reusable, and dispose of the rest as common waste.
Electronic systems contain toxic heavy metals like lead, cadmium, mercury and arsenic, to name a few, which are then exposed to the environment, posing a grave danger to public health. India does not have any structured way of disposal of e-waste.
There is but a catch to this service. It doesn’t pay the consumer a penny for the items.
“We do not pay because we have to spend to get the items picked up from anywhere in the country and bring them to our Roorkee factory,” Gupta said.
And in India, getting people to voluntarily give up their e-waste for free is a near-impossible task as of now, said Priti Mahesh, senior programme officer at NGO Toxics Link.
“The scrap-dealers buy the items from homes for a price, however paltry that may be. So what is the incentive for consumers to give away e-waste?” asked Mahesh.
Perhaps that’s why, Attero has so far been able to pick up items from only about 10 homes.
“We need legislation and a framework that bind people to get their e-waste recycled in a ‘green’ manner,” Mahesh said.