We regularly replace our phones, earphones and other electronics as new and improved versions are released, but what do we do with what we already have?
Electronic waste or e-waste is a burgeoning problem in India, with more and more electronic devices being produced, but no widely known ways of disposing it. As of April 2016, Bengaluru was the third-largest producer of e-waste.
E-waste is any old, discarded electric or electronic item. It’s important not only to keep spaces clean but also responsibly manage the e-waste that we produce. And this is exactly what Bengaluru-based start-up Saahas Zero Waste specializes in.
According to Vishal Kumar, a Program Manager at Saahas, India produces around 18.5 lakh tonnes of e-waste per year, and it is expected to grow 30% annually to touch over 50 lakh tonnes per year by 2020.
According to a report from the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) and Frost & Sullivan, only 2.5% of India’s e-waste gets recycled, while over 95% of the generated e-waste goes directly into the unorganised sector, especially scrap dealers.
The problem with selling e-waste to the informal sector is that although it offers more money, it tremendously harms the environment. Poor handling of e-waste is toxic, as the precious metals are taken out and chemicals such as lead, cadmium and mercury enter the ecosystem and poison our water and air.
But how is e-waste treated in the formal sector?
Talking to TNM, Vishal says, “Once the e-waste reaches the recycling centre, it is dismantled into different components. All the parts are opened up. All the plastic goes to the plastic recycling industry and all the metals that can be extracted go back to the metal recycling industry.”
The E-waste (Management) Rules of 2016 also require the producers to take responsibility and set up a collection centre, and ensure that the e-waste reaches the right destination, Vishal says.
To know more about how you can responsibly manage e-waste, watch the video: