For India’s mounting e-waste issue, collection is the need of the hour. About 98 recycling units in the country are running much below installed capacities.
Sensing this urgency, the Manufacturers’ Association for Information Technology (MAIT) has urged every municipal authority in the country to speed up e-waste collection.
The association has submitted proposals to improve e-waste collection and its proper disposal, apart from voicing its desire to work with all State governments.
“More attention should be paid for collection of e-waste from homes and offices. A collaborative approach by the municipal bodies, pollution control boards and the industry is required to handle this issue. Working in isolation is not the answer,” said MAIT Executive Director Anwar Shirpurwala.
E-waste (electronic waste) refers to discarded electrical and electronic devices that contain lead, cadmium and other hazardous substances, and also contains precious metals such as gold and silver. The improper disposal or processing of these could lead to serious health and environmental issues.
According to independent estimates, India generates about 1.5 million tonnes of e-waste every year, of which just 5 per cent is being recycled in a scientific manner.
A United Nations’ study, conducted in 2010, mentions this to be growing by about 500 per cent per annum.
“We are in talks with municipal authorities in every State for proper disposal of e-waste,” he said. To name a few, MAIT is in discussions with Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and similar others.
The association has also suggested various programmes such as formalising of the informal sector and protecting livelihood of people involved. It is also in talks with MMRDA to set up industrial parks in Mumbai that would house e-waste recyclers.
The Government had issued licences to 98 companies to run e-waste recycling units. Maharashtra (with nine operational units), Karnataka and New Delhi have largest number facilities.
However, not even a miniscule portion of their capacities are been put to use.
For example, e-waste company Just Dispose Recycling gets just one-fifth of its total installed capacity of 500 tonnes per annum facility.
“There is big business opportunity as the e-waste also contains precious metals. However, the ability to recover these metals such as copper, silver, gold and palladium (rare metal) is limited,” said Kiran Panchal, Director with Just Dispose Recycling.
The industry expects this opportunity to bring in more players, a move that would result in a final solution for the e-waste issue.