Managing e-waste

Managing e-waste

New Problem

That these should not be mixed with other wastes appears to fall on deaf ears of most individual consumers who have no compunction in throwing used/discarded CDS, DVDs, cassettes, ink-cartridges, tapes, dry cells, et al along with household rubbish. The fact that e-waste degrades slowly over years and could result in serious soil and water pollution is not appreciated by consumers.

Sometime back there was a drive to collect ink-cartridges that could be reused in a proper manner or disposed off scientifically. The incentive was there for those firms to give such cartridges to authorised agents by way of acknowledgement of their contribution to save the planet from pollution.

Whether some manufacturers accept or not, refilling ink-cartridges is going on, in a way reducing junking of cartridges after a single use. The manufacturers have to accept such a ground reality and should come forward to do so through their authorised agents to refill the ink-cartridges saving costs to the consumers while contributing to the recycling of cartridges scientifically.

It should be possible to induce at least a few electronic item dealers to take back for recycling items such as dry cells, print cartridges, DVD and CDs, apart from obsolete TV, radio, DVD, computers and the like when these come for exchange. They could be given a small incentive like 5 per cent while those customers who return such items too could get 5 per cent discount on whatever items they would buy.

Collection

This would induce at least some responsible consumers to return the used e-waste to nearby dealers. It should be possible for some NGOs/ragpickers who could be roped in, for a small fee, to go from door-to-door and collect e-waste. Such persons could be provided with a photo ID as well as a T-shirt announcing they are from a recognised agency involved in e-waste collection.

Big bazaars, shopping malls, railway stations, bus stations, and airport should be provided with distinctly marked attractive bins where e-waste could be deposited.
All those concerned with pollution should take interest in recycling/proper handling of e-waste to see that these do not get burnt or dumped along with other wastes in landfills. The collected e-waste should be properly handled and precious items could be recovered scientifically, the rest being disposed off in an environmentally friendly manner so that no pollution of soil, water or air takes place.

The sooner we evince more interest in e-waste handling and disposal the better in view of the burgeoning use of electronic items. In European Union countries it is mandated that used/obsolete electronic items will have to be taken back by dealers for safe disposal.

The time has come for India too to make a progressive law to deal with e-waste. There has to be a mass awareness campaign to warn citizens about pollution due to indiscriminate disposal of e-waste and the need for better handling and proper disposal of e-waste.

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