We all have that corner, that box or bag filled with useless cables and abandoned, dysfunctional gadgets and appliances in our houses. With technology and electronics percolating our lives more and more each day, what also increases is the electronic waste or e-waste that we generate.
India alone generates 2 million tonnes per annum and is among the top five e-waste generating countries in the world, according to a report by industry body ASSOCHAM-NEC. The global volume of e-waste generated is expected to grow at 20% CAGR to reach 52.2 million tonnes or 6.8 kg/ inhabitant by 2021 from 44.7 million tonnes in 2016.
The rapid growth of the electronics market and the toxic nature of the products is a cause for concern. While we often give away our waste to a local scrap dealer for a nominal amount, recycling e-waste properly is extremely important as ineffective recycling leads to pollution of soil, water and air.
But if recycled effectively, there is not only a huge environmental benefit, but a monetary one as well. The total value of all raw materials present in e-waste was estimated to be approximately $61.05 billion in 2016, which is more than the GDP of most countries in the world.
So, what if you could give away your e-waste to the right source to be effectively recycled and earn money in return? Sansodhan: An E-waste Exchange makes that possible.
Founded by S Devi, an economist, V Shivaani, a social development expert, Sandeep, an engineer and Dr Shalini Sharma, an environment management and policy professional, Hyderabad-based E-waste Exchange collects e-waste from individuals, corporations, schools, colleges, governments and even electronic and electrical equipment producers to hand it over to effective, authorised recyclers, thus contributing in the creation of a circular economy.
(L-R) Sandeep, Shivaani and Shalini
“E-Waste management is a humongous task. Every educated individual uses/wears gadgets today and everyone either educated/ non-educated, owns at least one gadget and one home appliance. Once these gadgets stop working, they don’t know where to dump them. Thus, we provide the online platform for people to throw away their e-waste, online. For this purpose, we serve six segments and each segment is different, thus way of working with each segment is also different,” Shailini says.
All you need to do is go to their website, register the electronics you want to give away and schedule a pick up. A person from E-Waste Exchange then picks up the waste, pays you for it and then transfers it to a Government authorised and technically sound dismantlers or recyclers..
E-waste exchange also conducts ‘E-Waste Collection Drives’ in residential areas. It also helps large-scale business and bulk consumers dispose their e-waste conveniently, while monitoring e-waste disposal up to the end of the product life, which is now a requirement by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). For electronic and electrical equipment producers, E-waste Exchange helps them meet EPR (extended producer responsibility) targets.
According to the e-waste management rules of the Govt. of India, a manufacturer is responsible to collect e-waste generated during the manufacture of any electrical and electronic equipment and channelise it for recycling or disposal by giving it to govt authorized recyclers. According to the rules, the government mandates electronic and electrical product producers to take back 10% of their products floated in market seven years before the current year. This target is increased by 10% every year.
E-Waste Exchange is working with the state government and state pollution control board to help monitor and verify the e-waste management status in the states.
In fact, E-Waste Exchange has been detailed in ‘e-Waste Management Rules, 2016, Government of India’, where it suggests to all e-product producers or manufacturers and bulk consumers that they can take support from "E-Waste Exchange” to meet their EPR targets and bulk consumers can make use of "E-Waste Exchange, the digital infrastructure’, to dispose their e-waste online.
Through this process, E-Waste Exchange creates a circular economy by reducing waste, emission and energy leakage through sustained recycling and reuse.
Five months since its launch, it has customers across the segments it caters to, along with being an official partner of the Telangana government. It is also working with several large corporates to conduct e-waste collection drives and spread awareness. In fact, it is currently working with YES Bank where customers can drop off their e-waste across Yes Bank branches in Hyderabad, Suryapet and Warangal.
Shalini says that E-Waste Exchange’s focus is not to generate huge profits but to save the environment by reducing the e-waste across the world.
“Just like Alibaba, the world’s largest retailer has no inventory and Uber, the largest taxi company in the world has no cars of its own, we want to make E-Waste Exchange the biggest recycler in the world without owning a recycling unit,” she adds.