Disposing of electronic waste will not be a hassle anymore for people who live near Indira Nagar in Bengaluru. Bengaluru got its first roadside e-waste drop box situated on CMH Road. Two non-governmental organisations, Saahas and Environmental Synergies in Development (ENSYDE) took up the initiative to set it up with the help of BM Kaval Residents' Welfare Association.
The drop box aims to segregate waste at the source and to stop it from entering landfills. The bin has two openings, the one on top meant for large components like keyboards, laptops, CPU’s, and the bottom one for smaller stuff like cables and adapters. “We get to collect an average of 15 kilograms of electronic components and devices per bin per month,” said, Divya Tiwari, CEO, Saahas.
NGOs Take a Stride Towards E-waste Collection
Segregation and disposal of the city’s e-waste is the responsibility of BBMP. However, over the years, e-waste had been disposed of along with solid waste, without any recycling.
The inability of the local bodies to address this problem, despite the demand from the Karnataka Pollution Control Board, had come under severe criticism. “The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) is only meant to oversee the management of electronic waste in the city. Producers and local bodies like BBMP are responsible for setting up e-waste collection centers for public use. However, they have not put in enough efforts in that direction,” said GV Ranga Rao, Member Secretary, KSPCB.
The NGOs have been filling the vacuum in the segregation of electronic waste at source, necessitated by the lack of initiative from the local bodies.
How Did the Programme Kick Off?
The two organisations, Saahas and ENSYDE, had already installed similar drop boxes across nine Bangalore One Centres and two post offices in February this year. “We started this initiative since most of the households across the city did not have a system in place to dispose of e-waste. They simply used to throw it along with the dry waste,” said Divya.
People instantly took to using the bins to dispose of items like computer chips, unused cables, and even larger devices like washing machines and air-conditioners. “The initiative garnered a massive response with over 250 kilograms of scrap components being collected within the first month,” she said.
A pick-up vehicle was arranged to collect the e-waste on a weekly basis. The NGOs had tied-up with the Karnataka Postal Circle as well as Bangalore One to ensure smooth maintenance and collection of the waste barrel. VMware, a subsidiary of Dell Technologies, is their main CSR partner.
Processing and Collection of Electronic Scrap from the Drop Box
Saahas and ENSYDE have deployed vans to collect the e-waste from the drop box on a periodic basis. Once loaded, they are taken to the NGOs processing centres for the purpose of temporary storage.
The e-waste components are then taken to a E Parisara, a government authorised electronic waste unit which handles the recycling and treatment process. The organisations pay a certain amount to the recycling unit depending on the nature of component disposed. For instance, Rs 30 is paid for chlorofluoro carbon (CFL) devices and tube-light.
Bengalurians In Support of the Move
With the number of laptop and mobile phone users growing exponentially, citizens have become more conscious about the disposal of e-waste. However, the question of where to discard them remained. But now, the installation of a bin for electronic waste has resulted in a reliable point of collection.
The public at large and specifically resident welfare associations have welcomed the move.
Earlier I used to just chuck the electronic waste along with the thrash at home. But, as soon as I heard of this drop box, I made it a point to get here and throw the unused electronic items I had at home like cables, batteries and chargers.Vikas Chandrashekar, Student
While residents in Bengaluru made several attempts to tackle segregation of dry and wet waste, electronic waste disposal remained in the grey area. Sugandhi Gangadhar, an environmental enthusiast, is happy about the move. “Improper disposal of e-waste has dangerous repercussions on public health and the immediate surroundings since the components contain toxic substances like lead and mercury. This kind of public bins can be a game-changer since I am sure many of them would use it,” she said.