Environment: Two college mates start Karma Recycling in New Delhi to provide a solution for the largely unattended problem of mounting e-waste

“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” is the mantra one associates with the ongoing wave of environment-friendly initiatives around the world. However, not many of us would think of electronic waste management and may not even know what it can lead to. Mobile phones, laptops, music players and more, there is no end to the list of electronic devices in use in India today, but if you pause to ponder over their disposal or potential for re-use, you will be stumped. Karma Recycling, a Delhi-based start-up, is attempting to bring a change and help people and corporate entities across the country understand that among the electronics they simply throw away after their utility expires, many may be repaired, refurbished or recycled. Akshat Ghiya and Aamir Jariwala, the company directors and co-founders, point out that even in terms of disposal, India has a grave cause for concern: “Ninety five per cent of India’s e-waste has long been handled by unskilled rag-pickers and is processed in the slums over small fires in the open, with the rag-pickers — many of them children — wearing no shoes, gloves, or masks as sulphur fumes rise into the air, lead and glass shards scatter on the ground and mercury filled water trickles into nearby sewer pipes.”

Extensive travelling through remote areas across the country and attending several global conferences on electronics recycling enabled the two former college-mates to come up with Karma Recycling, which is now a Government of India authorised electronic waste collector and segregator. It has been working since its inception in April 2013 towards conserving natural resources through systematic electronics reuse and responsible recycling. At the level of individual citizens, it has been operating through an online portal for re-selling used electronic devices.

“Karma is currently accepting device trade-ins through their e-portal in 20 cities, and in just over three months has traded in more than 9200 devices. It has also been working with corporate entities and has implemented e-waste policies for storage, transportation and safe disposal of e-waste for 54 companies pan-India. The response to all its initiatives has been overwhelming,” saythe directors adding that the greatest challenge they have had to face has been the lack of awareness regarding e-waste management and disposal.

“Over the years, India has been extremely efficient at recycling paper, plastic and metals, but not many know that electronics contain hazardous toxic elements that, when recycled in the same manner, have terrible effects on the air and water as well as on people anywhere near the site of disposal. Spreading this awareness through schools, colleges and business organisations, as well as knowledge about the new E-Waste Management and Handling Rules enforced by the Ministry of Environment and Forests since May 2012, has been Karma’s primary goal.”

The company’s vision is to become “one of India’s largest electronics obsolescence companies that helps consumers and corporate entities dispose their used electronics for re-use and recycling responsibly and effectively.”

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