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E-Waste Management: The Emerging Eco-Friendly Business in India

E-Waste Management: The Emerging Eco-Friendly Business in India

By Amit Singh Negi

Edited by Liz Maria Kurkiakose, Associate Editor, The Indian Economist

I belong to the present generation. I am one of those many, not-so-proud-owners of three non-functional mobile phones and ear-phones (whose wires always get tangled), three perfectly working mobile chargers which can’t be used anymore since they aren’t manufacturing cell phones that work with them! And I am also clueless when my external keyboard and mouse will be discarded. What to say of the 3-year-old laptop which is finding really tough to work with me. I might dump that as well soon, as there is not much room for any more waste or better e-waste in my shelves.

E-Waste, the popular term defining the electronic waste that is discarded such as wires, cables, TV sets, laptops, computers, mobile phones, fax machines, VCRs etc.,. At present, India has become the largest dumping ground for e-waste in the world since the processing cost is less and working conditions, environmental laws aren’t as strict as in the developed nations. China and India are literally becoming dumpsters of e-waste. Although in 2010, an Act had been passed to ban the import of e-waste; it’s being carried out illegally.

Anything toxic like that, when discarded eventually pollutes the environment. In this case, the metals and alloys used in the manufacture of electronics are unsafe when dumped and can be hazardous too, to the surrounding environment. Statistics say that Bangalore itself generates a lump sum of 37,000 metric tons of e-waste a year, ranking third following Mumbai and New Delhi, with Chennai, Hyderabad at 30,000 and 16,000 tons a year. The best solution for discarding any waste is the very renowned 3R-mantra i.e. “Reduce- Reuse- Recycle.”

Although an environmental hazard, but if e-waste is handled properly, it provides the best raw-materials for other new products. Many electronics have important metals and non-metals such as iron, copper, glass and sometimes valuable materials like palladium, gold, silver etc., which can be extracted and used again. Thus it can be a blessing in disguise .But if metals like lead aren’t handled or removed properly from the e-waste, it can cause damage to the workers in the environment and will pollute the landfill. Since, recycling of electronics seems more profitable by extracting all the valuable materials, innovative entrepreneurs in India have identified this business and are making profits by recycling e-waste.

Some big companies are planning on recycling e-waste on a large scale. ‘Attero’, a Roorkee based Indian company which was started in 2007 is India’s foremost e-waste recycling company which processes 2000 metric tonnes within a cost of $2 million and extracts precious metals instead of exporting them to International companies for extraction and smelting purposes. Most of the waste is procured from the private and public sector, and the rest is aggregated from the waste pickers who work without safety measures. This sometimes leads to the deterioration of health and the loss of important materials. Attero buys this e-waste from these independent waste collectors at higher rates to enhance the quality of the electronic goods that are to be processed.

E-Parisara: India’s first government authorized recycling company which recycles computers, telecom based equipment, Electrical equipment and extracts precious metals like gold from printed circuit boards (mostly found in Laptops and Desktops) and silver from silver coated components. It is situated in Bangalore. Cerebra Infotech Technologies is setting up its own plant to recycle almost 90,000 tones of e-waste. Infrotrek Syscom Limited is also one of the big players in this industry recycling e-waste by collecting from door-to-door, dismantling and recycling the electronics in an eco-friendly way.

With the increasing usage of electronics in this age, there has been an increase in their disposal as well, which has led to e-waste landfills. The Government should take steps in regulating laws required for the establishment of more companies which can add to the revenue and be eco-friendly at the same time. As for the citizens, we have to do our part while dumping our electronics by sending it for recycling. The International conglomerate, Nokia accepts its devices after usage for their recycle. Such ingenious steps should be taken by the manufacturing companies, which is not only favorable to the environment but is also profitable to the company.

Amit is currently, pursuing a BTec degree in Civil Engineering from NIT Durgapur. Originally from Uttrakhand but did his schooling from Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. More of an artist than engineer, he loves writing poems, fiction, social satires etc. He likes to be a story teller either through his literature or his movies. Also he is a travel-enthusiast. Loves travelling to new places and meeting new people but never forgets to tuck pen & paper in his pants before leaving.

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