Waking up to e-waste

by Sohini Bagchi    Jul 31, 2012

ewaste managementThe Government of Karnataka recently announced that it is investing Rs.145 Crore for setting up an e-waste treatment plant in Bangalore. M.N. Vidyashankar, Principal Secretary, Department of Commerce and Industries, Government of Karnataka, said that there is a huge scope of recycling plastics, printed circuit boards and computer chips that are generated as massive waste everyday and this will be addressed with the help of the new e-waste treatment plant. The government has also urged organisations – both technology providers as well as enterprise users in the state to ensure that they manage e-waste effectively in order to bring about a sustainable development.

The E-waste Disposal Rules devised by the Government of India and that came into force from May this year, applies not only to those involved in the manufacturing, sales and processing of electronic equipment or components, but every bulk consumer that include enterprise customers, who are also directed to monitor e-waste.

Creating a sustainable environment

Big manufacturers such as Wipro, HP, HCL, Lenovo and Dell are already offering take-back programs to enterprise and end user consumers in India, enabling them to dispose off the life products of respective brands in an environmentally safe manner. This allows enterprises to drop their unwanted computer and computer peripherals at collection centers that are notified on their websites or can arrange for free pickup by registering on their site. The respective vendors then get the collected e-waste recycled.

Several smaller solution providers have also become upbeat on managing e-waste. Noida-based electronic waste re-cycling firm, GreenTek Reman, has an R&D division and a fully automated facility for E-waste recycling. Subir Bajaj, Founder, GreenTek Reman believes that the e-recycling industry is largely unorganised as a chunk of the waste generated is handled by local scrap dealers. “We are helping companies struggling with their e-waste load, by developing an efficient technology disposal policy,” he said.

Managing e-waste: The right way

As the awareness about e-waste management is increasing, several Indian enterprises are joining the bandwagon. Many companies are already investing in e-waste management and are coming up with a centralised recovery strategy to deal with this issue more efficiently. According to Hilal Khan, CIO at Honda Siel Cars India, “We have a dedicated team that looks after e-waste and monitors the environmental guidelines. Accordingly they work out the strategy with the supplier, vendor or a dealer.”

Khan believes that the company’s e-waste is properly disposed of. “For this we have partnered with a waste management company that is certified by the Ministry of Environment,” he said.

Suneel Aradhye, CIO, Steel & Minerals Business, Essar Group, believes that technologies such as cloud computing and virtualisation as well as using managed printing services and green PCs can reduce e-waste. The other way to reduce e-waste is to reduce consumption. “By adopting purchase policies when making IT purchases with longevity in mind, CIOs can extend asset life cycles,” said Aradhye.

The awareness should start from the CXO level, believes Bajaj. The decision makers can use their influence to reach out to employees and members of their communities and educate them about the need for waste reduction.

Aradhye said that the entire ecosystem should be concerned about the correct way of disposing e-waste. From that perspective the Karnataka government’s initiative is a step in this direction. He believe just as the government’s policies must be put into action, it is also up to the corporate world to make a difference in e-waste management in a sustainable manner.