On the issue of e-waste management at Technopark

One would think that e-waste would be an issue at Technopark given that garbage disposal itself is a major issue elsewhere in the city. Apparently it’s not– at least not on the surface. Technopark manages to maintain its status as the ‘greenest Technopolis’ in the country through a successful e-waste management system and it even lists the same as an achievement. And that’s despite being home to more than 280 companies, staffed by 40,000 people, who (let’s assume) each use individual computer systems.

“The numbers are daunting, yes. But e-waste has been under control in the recent past, ever since 2008 when we introduced (through a tendering process) a government approved company to collect it. Before that I remember how we used to have to pay people to come collect e-waste,” says K. C. Chandrashekeran Nair, chief financial officer at Technopark. Azeeb A.K., assistant manager IT, who is in charge of e-waste management drives explains: “In 2008, we actually collected 12,000 kg of e-waste! Since then we have put a system in place for e-waste management. E-waste levels have now come down to at the most, 800 kg a quarter. Nowadays for each kg of e-waste that a company gives up it gets Rs.44 (it used to be Rs.7 until recently; fresh tenders are called annually). Last quarter we collected 480 kg of e-waste. This does not include tube lights, bulbs and other similar electrical/glass waste.”

Before the e-waste company comes on its quarterly collection drives, the administration sends out notices to companies within campus. The e-waste collectors then go door to door accompanied by an administration official and each lot of e-waste is weighed, payment agreed upon and settled.

Most of the companies in Technopark, especially the smaller ones, have signed up for the drive. Says Anil Saraswathy, director, Fischer Systems India: “We are a small office of 36 people but we do generate e-waste. There is a box that we have kept inside the office into which we dump used CDs, monitors, hard drives and so on. When it gets filled, which happens every six months or so, we put in a request with Technopark administration or the e-waste company and it’s picked up reasonably promptly. It saves us the hassle of having to dispose it ourselves.”

When contacted, none of the bigger companies were very forthcoming about what they do with e-waste. But most probably they all would have a sound e-waste collection system in place given that most of them (purportedly) subscribe to green technology initiatives. “Most of these companies have standards of operation which require systems to be upgraded often. I’ve heard that many of them usually give away used monitors, CPUs, printers and the like to various charitable organisations as an extension of their corporate social responsibility activities (CSR),” says Chandrashekaran Nair. Interestingly, some of the smaller companies also do the same as part of CSR or sometimes give used systems to their employees free of cost.

Azeeb says that awareness is the key to e-waste management. As such Technopark regularly organises awareness campaigns for the same. “In fact, our e-waste management drive has become won much praise that I have got queries from KINFRA and some IT firms in Kochi who want to adopt our system.”