Eco Recycling Ltd (Ecoreco) and The Economic Times, presented a discussion on Responsible Recycling of E-waste on March 17, 2009 at MIG Club, Mumbai. The key panelists included: Mr. Sanjay Khandare, IAS, Member Secretary, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, Mr. B K Soni, Chairman, Eco Recycling Ltd, Mr. Atul Nishar, Founder and Executive Chairman, Hexaware Technologies Limited, Mr. Kunal Pande, Director, IT Advisory Services, KPMG, Mr. Noel Thomas, Director and Chief Information Security Officer, Integreon, Mr. Subhash Thankachan, General Manager and Zonal Head, NIIT and Ms. Rufina Fernandes, CEO, NASSCOM Foundation. Mr. Deepak Nanda, Director Eco Recycling Ltd moderated the session.
A rapid rise in the volume of E-waste generated in India makes particularly vulnerable to E-waste pollution. The level of electrification in the country rises and hence the consumption of electrical and electronic items ranging from compact fluorescent lamps to television sets, mobile phones, computers and the myriad gadgets that make the 21st century what it is. This makes a critical situation for countries to have an effective & efficient electronic waste. Hence there is a need for collective consciousness on the proper disposal of E-waste and a need to assume the responsibility of educating consumers on appropriate disposal and ensuring a safe and controlled environment.
Mr. Sanjay Khandare, MS, MPCB spoke about the impacts of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipments (WEEE) can cause on the health of the stake holders and the environment, if not properly recycled. He emphasized on the need to follow the Hazardous Waste Handling Rules, which covers e-waste and the steps being taken by the regulatory body for effective implementation of the Rules to discourage leakage of e-waste in the hands of other then the authorized recyclers. He highlighted that as per the study conducted by the MPCB in 2007, Mumbai and Pune contribute to about 50,000 tons of e-waste annually. Ecoreco has been authorized by Maharashtra Pollution Board to collect E-waste.
All E-waste generators should give their E-waste only to the authorized re-processors” said Mr. Khandare
Mr. B K Soni, Chairman, Eco Recycling Ltd stressed on changing the current processes where nearly 98% of the e-waste generated in the corporate chain gets directly or indirectly handed over to the local kabadies or scrap dealers for better returns in terms of the monetary values. Corporate feel they are doing CSR by donating the computers to the NGOs. The NGO will barely use the machine and sell it within a few days to the kabadies. After sourcing out the required metals, these kabadies use unethical means of discharging the non recyclable material in rivers, open fields which may be a source for drinking water or growing vegetation, respectively. In fact, in a recent study carried out in TOI almost a month before suggested that vegetables grown around Panvel were loaded with harmful chemicals. He stressed on the need to guard the environment and the ecology and to encourage usage of available resources rather than going deeper in the mines.
“At Ecoreco we have taken up special initiatives like donating new computers to NAB or such organizations, out of the funds generated from the e-waste received from the corporate free of costs” informed Mr. Soni
Ms. Rufina Fernandes, CEO, NASSCOM Foundation focused on the need to refurbish old computers for extending technology access to NGO’s and Government Schools. She said that these donated computers will be refurbished and bundled with content and supported with training from the Foundation to the beneficiaries and at the end of life will be given to the responsible recyclers like Ecoreco.
“We need to focus on refurbishing of old computers and extend their lives”, Rufina stressed. Mr. Atul Nishar, Founder and Executive Chairman, Hexaware Technologies Limited, highlighted three needs. Firstly, not to donate non-functioning computers to schools, they should first be upgraded and then be donated to Municipal Schools, NGOs, etc. secondly, There is a need to get conscious and utilize the capacity to the maximum extent so that there is limited need of adding more servers. Thirdly, to create awareness of E-waste through channels likes this seminar. It is not just about corporate creating e-waste; we even have e-waste in our households like tube lights, TV sets, CD players, etc. The Kabadiwala will try to only extract the metal and dispose the rest in the environment which is very harmful. He also brought forth the fact stating that what is waste for one sector may be of use to another. So this can not be termed as E-waste. If Nasscom Foundation takes old computers from corporate and give to municipal schools where the same computer will be used for another three years is in a way reducing e-waste. He also spoke about the STPI and SEZ schemes.
Mr. Atul raised a concern on “Companies while donating computers to schools and NGOs must ensure that they are functioning properly. There is a need to create greater awareness on e-waste and its management. Such seminars very much help.
Mr. Kunal Pande, Director, IT Advisory Services, KPMG added that the use of electrical equipment (including electronics) is rising at all levels, be it household or corporate. Developed countries have done studies which show that there is an exponential problem in this area. It has to be made profitable and meaningful to the value chain users, NGOs, etc. It is up to each individual to handle this.
“We should focus on other alternatives available with the help of technology to reduce E- waste practices. Government Should incentivize adoption of such practices” emphasized Mr. Pande.
Mr. Subhash Thankachan, General Manager and Zonal Head, NIIT said that the exponential rise of electronic items in western countries have developed waste management practices. We are learning to start hence generating awareness is a key concern. If we take ownership we can bring in the change. The ill effects need to be studied. This needs to be communicated to children at school level. If it forms a good business model, special courses on e-waste management can also be added. The environment has to be changed. We need to set up E-waste collection centers. We have a tendency to use appliances for alternative uses and throw it only when it is actually deteriorating or rotting. Most of the e-waste lies in our households and in the corporate godowns, we need to start from here…
“Government should take the initiatives to create awareness of e – waste management practices that can be communicated through all the age groups through various seminars, welfare programs and also by setting up E- waste collection centers. Mr. Thankachan stressed.
Mr. Noel Thomas, Director and Chief Information Security Officer, Integreon, stressed the need for people who have ventured in this space to be informed of the regulations in this space. We have seen India make great stride in IT Development. There is also been a phenomenal rise in the order of computers. It is important to sit back and think what we are adapting to and on how we are going to handle the waste management for the same.
“There is a need for corporate social responsibility which every individual should be aware and same can be translated into action”, said Mr. NoelThomas.
The session was closed by thanking to the panelists by Mr. Deepak Nanda, CM & MD – Knights Bridge Financial Services and this was followed by felicitation by “Green Enterprise” of over eighty corporate who voluntarily chosen the path of getting their e-waste recycled in an environment friendly manner with the help of Ecoreco, Mr. Sanjay Khandare & Mr. B K Soni handed over the “Certificate of Appreciation” to the executives of the corporate present at the venue.