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Date: 11-11-13

E-Waste is getting bigger and worse

Along with the economics and business benefits from the electronic industry, there is a huge growing environment problem of managing electronics waste. A newly bought personal computer and mobile phone is used for a period of an average of 3 to 5 years. When somebody replaces older PC or mobile phone with a new one, there are high chances of Junking the older version. Each year millions of electronic systems are dumped as waste.

Intel, in its recent survey finds a personal computer older than five years requires more maintenance cost and other resources compared to a new one. The study by Intel finds "small businesses are holding onto PCs significantly beyond the recommended refresh date, with more than 36 percent owning PCs that are more than 4 years old. These machines require more maintenance, exerting a greater toll on employee productivity and higher equipment costs than the purchase of a new machine". If that is the case, why can't a computer designed to work for 10 years. So there are design, manufacturing and recycling challenges in front of the electronic industry.

The industry body Manufacturers’ Association for Information Technology (MAIT) has organized an informational event on “E-Waste Rules for Bulk Consumers” in partnership with the Ministry of Environment & Forests, Central Pollution Control Board and Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) in Mumbai. The speakers at the event highlighted that from the total e waste generated in the country, 20% was from Maharashtra, of which 50 % came from Mumbai Metropolitan City. This was close to 11,000 metric tonnes, which is an underplayed figure.

Sharing his thoughts on the challenges, Mr UPS Madan, Metropolitan Commissioner, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), said, “MMRDA got acquainted with the E waste management sector in 2009. The national inventory for e waste was carried out in 2005- 2006 and later an inventory by the MPCB for e waste in Mumbai & Pune. There is a gap between growth of e-waste and its management.”

It should be noted that in 2010, it was initiated that MPCB would be handling the regulatory aspects, while MMRDA would provide infrastructural support, whereas the present rules for e waste governance came later in 2012.

Mr Madan added, “There is a lack of clarity amongst recyclers when they participate in the Expression of Interest. There is a wide gap between the organised and unorganised sector when it comes to e waste collection mechanism and the actual recycling. Now, it is necessary to let the experts integrate the organised & unorganised sector while the MMRDA can look to provide infrastructural support to aid the process. ”

While addressing the gathering, Mr Anwar Shirpurwala, Executive Director, MAIT, said, “We are concerned about the amount of e waste present and its estimation in the coming years. As India is not prepared to manage such a large problem, hence we need to streamline the degradation process of e waste. Consumers need to be aware and responsible about this situation and only by drifting towards organised recycling we can try to curb the harzardious effects of e waste”.

Going further, Mr. Virendra Singh, Director (IT), Government of Maharashtra, said, “Maharashtra is one of the leading states as far as e governance is concerned. The city is fast progressing as far as IT related innovations are concerned. Maharashtra in fact tops the country as far as e governance related activities are concerned. We need to be aware & prepared in terms of handling technology that becomes obsolete. The computer peripherals account for close to 60-70 % of hazardous waste generated by the industry including mercury, lead etc that have long standing health effects on human body. It is conferences like MAIT that will help educated the industry the stake holders & public at large. We need to concentrate on methods of disposal of waste that at present seem insufficient to tackle the huge amounts of waste generated.”

The event was attended by Mr. Rajeev Kumar Mital, Member Secretary, MPCB, Mumbai, Mr. Virendra Singh, Director (IT), Government of Maharashtra and Mr. UPS Madan, Metropolitan Commissioner, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) with Mr. Anwar Shirpurwala, Executive Director, MAIT, giving the welcome address.

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