SHERAS FERNANDES | NT BUZZ
In an era where technology has taken over the traditional means of entertainment, the term ‘Digital Age’ is quite accurate. As we all are busy updating and upgrading our gadgets little do we care about the harm caused to the environment. Every gadget has a life span and once it expires it is simply discarded along with our everyday waste. Not knowing much about segregation of e-waste materials most of us either end up mixing it with biodegradable waste or pile it up at home.
According to research 1.7 million tonnes of e-waste is generated in India per annum. E-waste also known as electronic waste is a term used to describe litter from discarded electronics and appliances. If the waste is not discarded in the appropriate manner, heavy metals like lead and cadmium can pose a serious threat to one’s health and the environment.
On World Environment Day celebrated each year on June 5, Communicare Trust in partnership with NASSCOM Foundation will organise an e-waste collection drive for ten days within the capital city of Panaji. The drive will be kicked off on June 5. The people of Goa can dispose their e-waste in a safe manner. Collection points have been set up at several prominent areas in the city including Goa Handicrafts Emporia at KTC Panaji, Goa Handicrafts Complex – Mala, Goa Handicrafts Outlet at Udyog Bhavan opposite Menezes Braganza Hall, CCP Animal shelter at St Inez and the Extension wing of Government Polytechnic at Altinho Panaji.
Environmental consultant, Sushant Figueiredo with expertise in ‘green buildings’, is currently involved in various projects in and around Goa including green building certifications, e-waste management, environment clearances and biodiversity assessments. “I was brought up in a family where my father made me sensitive towards the environment. I was told about the degrading environment and factors that contributed to this destruction,” he says.
Sushant points that there are two primary reasons that have contributed to the increasing e-waste. “Consumerism has become a major issue over the past few years. People want to continuously update and upgrade that there are so many variety of products in the market. The amount of e-waste has increased tremendously over the last two years. Secondly e-waste unlike municipality waste cannot be tackled easily. It has heavy metals like mercury, selenium, cadmium, chromium, lead and zinc which degrade the environment and get into the systems of living beings. They cannot be discarded in the environment as they contain toxic materials that can contaminate and degrade the ecology.”
Sushant reveals that 90 per cent of India’s e-waste is recycled by the informal sector. “The process which they use to recycle is harmful for their health. Over the years, many documentaries have been made and it has shown the adverse effects on the people working in this sector,” says Sushant.
The E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016 has stressed upon the EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) where it is the producer’s responsibly to take back the product once it stops working. “It is made mandatory that every electronic manufacturer has to have an EPR plan which is consented by the state pollution control board as to how she or he will take back the e-waste manufactured by them,” says Sushant who adds that there are two collectors in Goa who are easily approachable when it comes to giving away e-waste. “There are two collectors, Ashley Delany and Baylon Gomes who collect e-waste to give it away for recycling,” says Sushant.
“Various mechanisms will be available shortly in place for consumers to dispose their e-waste properly. There are drives happening regularly where one can dispose their e-waste,” says Sushant who believes that e-waste should in no circumstance be given away to scrap dealers.
With the collection drive starting in the city on June 5, manager, Communicare Trust, Nalini Elvino de Sousa says that the drives will slowly spread across other parts of the state. “Awareness is necessary at school levels, teachers especially. Communicare recently organised awareness programmes on e-waste management across 50 schools in Goa,” she says. Sushant adds: “As per the 2016 rules, if e-waste is mixed with other waste then it is the responsibility of the local body to segregate the waste and give it to the e-waste dealer. If a foreign product is sold in the local market then it is the responsibility of the local bodies to send the product to the manufacturer.”
Sushant finally says: “Out of the 14 municipal councils in Goa not many know about the newly implemented rule and it seems like it is going to take some time for the bodies to get used or know about this rule.”
(Communicare Trust in partnership with NASSCOM foundation will be organising an e-waste collection drive for ten days within Panaji. People can discard their e-waste at collection points in the city.)