How much e-waste is being generated in Karnataka?

Much of the immense amount of electronic waste generated in the city seems to be going into a rabbit hole over which the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) has little control or oversight.

Disposal of e-waste, if not done properly, can be hazardous to the environment and health. Right now, the KSPCB has little information about the quantum of e-waste being generated, or where it is being disposed.

On the other hand, while thousands of tonnes of waste is generated annually, many authorised recyclers and dismantlers say their vast plants remain woefully underused.

To obtain an idea of the e-waste chain in the State, KSPCB has requested bulk generators to ‘voluntarily’ give information about the type of e-waste being generated.

Bulk consumers of electrical and electronic equipment comprise organisations that are registered under the Factories Act, 1948 or Companies Act, 2013, and healthcare facilities which have a turnover of more than ₹1 crore or have more than 20 employees.

Even by rough estimates, this encompasses more than 30,000 enterprises, including over 3,500 Information Technology companies, in the State.

A. Ramesh, Senior Environment Officer, KSPCB, said, “There is no official figure of e-waste generation in Karnataka, or anywhere in India. For the first time, we are trying to create baseline data by reaching out to bulk consumers. This is a start and will give us an idea of what is being generated and where it may be going.”

Currently, KSPCB only has information about the quantum of waste reaching 71 authorised dismantlers and recyclers in the State. While the recyclers have a capacity to process more than 52,777 metric tonnes of e-waste, many establishments are unable to utilise their full capacity.

There are no restrictions on where e-waste generators can send their waste. Many opt for recyclers in Uttar Pradesh or Haryana while a significant number end up disposing it illegally.

While KSPCB officials are aware of illegal recyclers, without a complaint so far, there has been no enforcement.

Khadeer Pasha, Managing Director of E-friendly Waste Recyclers, says his facility in Nayandanahalli uses just 10% of its capacity. “The only source of e-waste for us is through e-auctions at Public Sector Units. But, among private firms, we are constantly rejected. Unauthorised firms often have the edge as they quote higher rates for the material as they don’t have to spend on compliance like we do,” he said.

Sameer P., Director of Eco-Ewaste Recyclers, says that while his plant can process 300 tonnes of waste annually, the company has got barely 16 tonnes in the past year. “Where does the e-waste go? The government should get e-waste producers to account for their disposal,” he said.

“The process of figuring out how much e-waste is generated in the city would be a good first step in ensuring better compliance of its disposal,” says Raghav B.K., co-founder of Sriram Eco Raksha Computer Services Pvt. Limited where around half the installed capacity is met by e-waste from mid-sized firms.

“Collecting information from bulk generators will help tremendously. At least the State will know how much has to be collected and can tally if all of it is reaching registered vendors. Compliance can then be stricter,” he said.

‘State-wise producer responsibility needed’

A simple change in the rule could help reduce the e-waste burden on the State, say KSPCB officials.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has mandated that one in three electronic goods manufactured must be recovered for recycling by the producers. However, there is no State-wise specification for this, and the goods recovered by large manufacturers — who are often based out of the State — may or may not contain items being used in Karnataka, said officials.

“If a mobile phone manufacturer has produced 1 lakh phones in 2012, the company has to recover 30,000 such phones by 2019. But this 30,000 need not contain even a single phone from Karnataka. Instead, we have told CPCB to make it mandatory for them to recover goods from batches despatched to States to ensure the recycling or refurbishment benefits are spread out,” said an official.

Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jan 18, 2022 11:28:10 AM |

Next Story