While the E-waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011, came into effect from 2012, and the city’s only e-waste recycling company Eco Reco, had its infrastructure in place in 2005, the firm today reprocesses 381 metric tonnes, a gross underutilisation of its total capacity — 7,200 metric tonnes.
“There are environmentally conscious consumers and consumers who are money conscious. Most people are the latter, and will sell their waste to kabbadiwallas (scrap dealers) without knowing how their computer will be junked,” said Eco Reco’s founder and chairman BK Soni, a pioneer in the field.
Soni is also a member of the expert group on e-waste management that was constituted by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB).
“This can be only reduced when the consumers understand the seriousness of the new e-waste rules. Inputs at recycling units will not increase until consumers are fully aware of environment hazards of manual dismantling,” he added.
The company’s plant in Vasai procures e-waste, where it is dismantled manually while all other operations such as shredding, cutting, size reduction, segregation ad granulation take place mechanically.
Basic metals are sold off to smelting companies such as Hindalco, Steel Authority of India and Indian Aluminium Company.
Making scrap dealers understand the environmental and health hazards of melting and heating printed circuit boards (PCBs) will help change the scenario, Soni said.
“Heating PCBs to extract metals is extremely harmful. The authorities have to drive home the advantage of clean technologies, only then will things change and people dispose of e-waste responsibly.”