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Teen powers change, helps buildings, schools recycle 350 kg of batteries

After suffering from bronchitis caused by smoke from Deonar, the 15-yr-old decided to start recycling batteries

mumbai Updated: May 01, 2017 11:08 IST
Badri Chatterjee

While the February 2015 Deonar dumping ground fire played havoc with the city’s air quality, it also sparked ambition in a 15-year-old boy to recycle batteries from schools, housing societies and private companies with an aim to reduce the impact on overburdened landfills in Mumbai.

After bearing the brunt of bronchitis for several months owing to the smoke from the dumpyard, in August 2015, Nishant Jain, resident of Kalpataru Aura in Ghatkopar (West), decided to collect all types of used batteries (AAA, AA pencil batteries, button cells etc), and send them to a private recycling company in Bhiwandi.

Today, he has helped recycle more than 350 kg of such toxic batteries and has played a major role in helping 17 schools, five buildings from a housing society and a private company get rid of their battery waste.

“The main issue is that we are all lazy when it comes to being responsible for our waste,” said Nishant. “We all use these small batteries daily but are not really aware of the harm. Once these batteries are collected along with mixed waste at dumping grounds, heat radiation from fires can cause a massive explosion, rendering the city breathless for days.”

E-waste contains hazardous material which can harm human, animal and plant life if not disposed scientifically. This includes lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic and barium. Used batteries at landfills also leach chemicals and contaminate the soil, surface and water table, thereby contaminating the water ending up at the Arabian Sea.

“Apart from just doing what he has been passionate about, Nishant has learnt a lot from his own efforts. While the recycling process taught him about science, biology and how toxic waste can affect the food chain, discussions with the industry helped him understand the supply-chain management and basic economics. I stand a proud father,” said Amit Jain, Nishant’s father and a solar consultant.

The teenager said initially he had to persuade students and teachers at the Podar International School, Santacruz. “It took less time to convince students as they understood the importance of such a drive. Slowly, the teachers too, began bringing their used batteries and before I knew it I had collected 100 kgs of batteries,” said Nishant adding that he reached out to people through presentations, in which he talked about foreign countries that had successfully managed to treat their e-waste.

He was supported by city-based NGO Children’s Movement For Civic Awareness (CMCA) that helped him connect with more than 13 schools.

“When we saw his (Nishant) efforts, it was clear that he had done his research and was willing to go the extra mile. At his age, he is already an active citizen,” said Vinodini Lulla, trustee, CMCA. “He personally spoke to students, volunteers and the conviction with which he spoke, he convinced everyone about this issue that nobody really bothers about.”

“Despite having his board exams, he is passionate about his dream,” said Father Mathew Pinto, principal, St John the Baptist High School, Thane. “The way he convinced me and my students, I really salute him. My students actually brought over 8kg of batteries for recycling.”

Nishant also placed boxes at the lobby of five buildings of his apartment complex where residents deposit their used batteries daily. “It’s a four-step process – teamwork, leadership, patience and persuasion. My aim is to complete collecting and recycling half-a-ton of battery waste by April-end,” said Nishant. Last year, Nishant presented his battery recycling plan to civic chief Ajoy Mehta and the municipal corporation’s solid waste management department. Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation is currently consulting experts for an elaborate plan to initiate a city-wide drive for the same.

E-waste, the India story

• India is one of the top five generators of electronic waste globally

• The country consumes an estimated 2.5 billion dry cell batteries (57,500 tons) every year.

• India recycles 0% of these batteries

• Many countries recycle them — Switzerland (73%), Belgium (59%), Sweden (55%)

• USA and Canada recycled more than 5,400 tons of batteries in the past few years

• This can be changed by simply recycling batteries and returning metals back to industries


E-waste is broken or old electronic gadgets, including parts of computers, TV sets, stereos, copiers, mobile phones, phone chargers, electric cables, batteries and fax machines, which contain toxic, but valuable materials that can be recycled


E-waste contains hazardous material which can harm human, animal and plant life if not disposed of scientifically. This includes lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic and barium

They can cause neurological impairments, anaemia, kidney failure, gastrointestinal and respiratory irritation, abnormalities of skeletal system, live inflammation, liver cancer, and cardiovascular diseases after chronic exposure


“If a teenager has a basic understanding of what unsegregated toxic waste can do to the city’s environment, citizens too must be inspired to segregate waste at home. E-waste poses a severe threat to the city’s air quality and such initiatives are welcome to reduce the burden on our dumping grounds.

Vijay Balamwar, deputy municipal commissioner, solid waste management, BMC

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