Much to the relief of those groping in the dark on how to deal with the burgeoning quantity of e-waste being generated in the State, the Kerala Enviro Infrastructure Limited — which runs the Common Hazardous Waste Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facility (CHWTSDF) at Ambalamedu — is ready with an e-waste collection centre.
The company has converted a portion of its 2,000-sq.m storage facility for the collection centre with the capacity to handle four tonnes of e-waste a day. It secured consent from the Kerala State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) to establish the centre last September and is now awaiting the Board’s final approval to begin operations. The clearance is likely to come in a few weeks’ time.
The regional office of the KSPCB has inspected the structure and accompanying facilities of the centre and forwarded an approving report to its headquarters. “Since it is only a collection centre there should not be any problem in granting the permission which is likely by next month,” said K. Sajeevan, chairman, KSPCB.
The idea is to collect e-waste from numerous points across the State, bring it in fully covered vehicles to the centre and to then transport it to a recycling facility. An understanding has been reached with Gurgaon-based Green Vortex Private Limited and e-waste recycling plants at Bhubaneshwar and Hyderabad for the purpose.
“We do not want to go for a recycling centre anytime soon as it could cost up to Rs.10-12 crore. In comparison, setting up the collection centre cost us less than Rs. 50 lakh,” said N.K. Pillai, CEO, Kerala Enviro Infrastructure Limited.
The company plans to collect e-waste from points of generation such as Infopark, Technopark, and bulk users of electronic and electrical equipment such as banks and educational institutions. The transportation of e-waste from the source of generation is the responsibility of the operator of the collection centre. “Discussions are also under way with local bodies to have transit points where e-waste can be stored before being taken to the collection centre,” said Mr. Pillai.
While the operator may have to pay a fixed price for collecting waste such as used computers, monitors and laptops that entail a minimum scrap value, there are other types of e-waste such as tubes and CFLs that are entirely useless and for collecting which the operator may charge a fee. “We are yet to negotiate with the recycling units about the fee to be charged,” said Mr. Pillai.
Infopark has expressed its readiness to enter into a tie-up with the collection centre once it starts operating. At present, used computers from the campus are given to schools for the benefit of poor students while other e-waste such as cartridges, CFLs, tubes and completely unusable computers remain stacked up. Technopark, on the other hand, gives yearly contract to a government-approved agency from Chennai or Bangalore, which quotes the highest bid to collect and recycle e-waste being generated in the campus.
Environmentalist S. Sitaraman said it was high time a scientific method was adopted for the management of e-waste. “Harmful metals like cadmium, lead, mercury, etc., present in the e-waste is not recovered and treated properly as a result of which it percolates to the soil and the groundwater causing health and environmental hazards,” he said.