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Friday, Oct 18, 2019

26,000 metric tonnes of e-waste....and PMC dawdling on policy

Civic authorities say e-waste generated by public proves tough to handle as it is not segregated and is often mixed with other garbage

pune Updated: Jul 30, 2018 15:16 IST
Parth Welankar
Parth Welankar
Hindustan Times, Pune
The Pune municipal corporation has no specific policy related to e-waste segregation and recycling.  Mounts of e-waste is seen at Juna Bazaar, Ganesh peth, on Sunday.
The Pune municipal corporation has no specific policy related to e-waste segregation and recycling. Mounts of e-waste is seen at Juna Bazaar, Ganesh peth, on Sunday. (RAHUL RAUT/HT PHOTO )

More than 26,000 metric tonnes of electronic waste (e-waste) is generated in the city annually and is certainly one of the major problems faced by the Pune municipal corporation. The civic body, however, has no specific policy related to e-waste which prevents them from taking action against those who leave the e-waste untreated in the city.

“Last year, in the month of December, a policy regarding e-waste was approved which regularised collection, segregation of e-waste along with fine to be imposed for the violation of the policy. Consequently, the Pune Municipal Corporation has sent the policy to the state government for the approval,” Suresh Jagtap, head, solid waste management department, PMC.

The state government has however not approved the policy till now and this has created limitations for the civic body to take action, added Walunjkar. 

All discarded electrical and electronic appliances are termed as electronic waste or e-waste and they can be classified into different categories. Large household appliances like discarded refrigerators, washing machines and air conditioners are known as white goods.

Discarded computers, laptops, mobile phones and printers, associated with information technology and telecommunications are classified under grey goods.

Consumer goods like televisions, cameras and recorders come under the brown goods category.

The civic officials say that e-waste generated from industrial and commercial institutions is not a major problem. However, the e-waste generated by general public proves tough to handle as it is not segregated and is often mixed with other municipal solid waste.

“A strict policy is needed to control the segregation of e-waste at the source, like how dry and waste waste is segregated. With no policy in place as of now, we can only rely on PMC’s awareness drive, which is conducted at regular intervals. We conducted e-waste drive on May 6 where we collected 6,800 kilogrammes of e-waste in a day,” said Walujkar.

With no proper storage place for broken tubes, demand for PMC’s sorting cell grows

Among the many other difficulties faced by the waste pickers in the city is the erroneous disposal of fluorescent tubes (commonly known as tube lights) by residents. The waste pickers have to collect broken tubes from various parts of the city, without having proper storage facilities for the same.

Swach, a non-governmental organisation, has been asking the Pune municipal corporation to form a sorting cell to be formed where the waste can be sorted and stored. The civic body has however turned a deaf ear to the requests made by the city-based NGO.

Manal Pagare, chief executive officer, Swach said, “For the last one and a half years, we have been requesting the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) for a sorting cell. While they had approved our requests, nothing has been done on ground, so far.” 

According to Pagare, after the segregation of the electrical items are done from the mixed garbage, there is a need of a storage cell where these materials can be stored until the civic body disposes it off properly. 

An official of solid waste management in PMC requesting anonymity said, “The request to create a sorting cell has been approved. However, funds are not being released for the creation of the same. However, we are working on reducing the time taken to dispose off the discarded tubes.” 

According to the official, “Currently, PMC does not recycle the tubes collected in the mixed garbage. After the segregation is done, we sell it to the glass industries.”

NGO Swach sounds the garbage e-alarm

The citizens are not separating e-waste from regular waste and this is creating problems for the waste pickers of the city.

The Pune municipal corporation has not only failed to act on those who are not disposing e-waste, but also has failed to effectively recycle the same. This has only worsened the situation for the waste pickers.

Swach, a non-governmental organisation, which specialises in waste management services in the city, says that Pune is generating 26,000 metric tonnes of e-waste annually without having a proper system of recycling and disposal in place.

Mangal Pagare, chief executive officer, Swach stressed on creating awareness about the hazards caused by e-waste. He also urged the civic body to work on war footing to create a proper mechanism for recycling the collected e-waste.

She said, “The concept of recycling e-waste is hardly in existence in the city . As a result, the waste generated is often dumped in river beds or dump yards, without proper recycling or treatment. This is hazardous both at personal level and for the environment, at large.” 

Responding to the claims made by Swach, Monica Walunjkar, junior engineer, Pune municipal corporation said, “Currently, we have two collection centres for e-waste in the city. While one centre in Kothrud is operational, other in Fursungi will be operational soon. All the collected e-waste is dumped in the Kothrud centre. We sell the collected e-waste materials to companies which accept such kind of scrap.”

Walunjkar, however, accepted that they have no mechanism for recycling.

According to Swach, waste pickers face problems in segregating the e-waste materials from the mixed waste collected from across the city and a waste picker had lost his life from an injury he sustained when segregating e-waste.

Pagare said, “E-waste needs to be segregated at the source. However, residents do not segregate them and mix it with the general waste. Our waste pickers have to remove the mobile batteries, broken glass screens of mobiles and other small electronic waste from the dump.” 

There is a serious need for creating awareness among residents to dump e waste separately, added Pagare.

First Published: Jul 30, 2018 15:16 IST

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