Growth percentage of cell phone usage is very high

Flashing the latest electronic gizmo thrills everyone. But, three years down the line, the city will be generating about 44 metric tonnes (MT) of e-waste from cell phones alone. It is estimated that Vijayawada generated e-waste of 13.05 MT through cell phones in 2010.

According to a survey conducted by EPTRI, the growth percentage of cell phone usage is very high at 26 per cent compared to television (22 per cent), computer (11) and printer (11). And, the total e-waste is likely to touch more than 570 MT per annum by 2015 increasing from 209.70 MT in 2010.

However, there are no concrete steps being taken for the safe disposal and scientific recycling of e-waste. Most of it finds its way either to landfills or sold in grey market. The e-waste, as it is mostly dealt by unorganised sector, flows go unreported.

No authentic data is available on the quantity collected, reused, refurbished and recycled in the informal sector. Environmentalists express concern that improper way of recycling and disposal of e-waste leads to global warming, contamination of land, air and water, and health and safety issues.

The situation is likely to change drastically in next couple of months.

From May, electronic device manufacturers will have to put in more efforts for safe disposal of electronic and electrical goods that they produce. They will have to ensure that their ‘take back' schemes work better, as they will be responsible for safe disposal of e-waste.

The Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board is gearing up to implement the E-waste (Management and Handling) Rules 2010, which will come into effect in May 2012.

As per the new rules the manufacturers of electronic goods, under the Extended Producers' Responsibility (EPR), will be responsible for recycling, reducing levels of hazardous substances in electronics and setting up collection centres.

The bulk users such as large corporations, banks, insurance companies, government agencies and educational institutions will also need to keep a record of their e-waste disposal.

When contacted, APPCB Zonal Joint Chief Environmental Engineer Vijay Kumar said that they were waiting for circular from the government.

An action plan would be prepared in accordance with the new rules.