Electrical and electronic goods contain different hazardous materials which are harmful to human health and the environment if not disposed or recycled carefully. Creating a safe, stable, and sustainable environment in the State is among the major goals GSPCB chairman Jose Noronha seeks to achieve. In an interview he stressed that our health remains at the centre of attention.
- Could you explain exactly what e-waste is?
E-waste stands for Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) and comprises waste from computers, electronic devices, mobile phones, washing machines, refrigerators, telephones, and other electronic goods.
- What are the rules that govern e-waste in India?
E-Waste has been covered under Hazardous Waste (Management, Handling and Transboundary Movement) Rules 2008. Separate rules have also been notified under the Environment (Protection) Act 1986 called E-Waste (Management and Handling) Rules 2011 have come into effect from 1st May 2012. The CPCB has also formulated guidelines for environmentally sound management of E Waste.
- What is the composition of e-waste in general?
E-Waste has a very diverse composition and it contains various substances which may be classified as hazardous as well as non hazardous. Broadly iron and steel constitutes 50 per cent of e-waste followed by plastic 21 per cent, non ferrous metals like copper, aluminum and silver and others 13 percent.
- What are the steps involved in handling of e-waste?
In order that environmental pollution is reduced due to the indiscriminate dumping of e-waste we need to adopt a simple procedure that will assist each of us in quickly disposing any such waste that requires to be treated. For this purpose we need to have collection, storage, dismantling and segregation, recycling and recovery, and treatment and disposal facilities. If this procedure is carried out in a scientific and controlled environment we can rest assured that there will be very low levels of pollution created on this account.
- Has the GSPC Board carried out any study on e-waste in Goa?
Yes we have, and it is estimated that Goa generates approximately 350 tons of such waste every year. About 55 per cent comes from industrial units and 30 per cent from residences and balance from commercial establishments. There are an estimated 300 scrap dealers in Goa and none of these collect e-waste exclusively.
- What are the concerns with indiscriminate and unscientific disposal of such waste?
There are a number of hazardous substances present in e-waste like Brominates Flame Retardants (BFR’s), Mercury, Lead ,Lithium and Cadmium and these are found in the circuit boards, LCD, Batteries, electric cables among others. For example BFR’s can give rise to dioxins and furans during incineration. It is therefore very important that e-waste is treated and disposed in a scientific manner and under professional supervision.
- What are the responsibilities of citizens in so far as e-waste is concerned?
Waste prevention is the most preferred method of waste management and we should strive to extend the life of all such products and keep them out of the waste system for as long as possible. Donating used electronic items to schools; NGO’s and lower income families will help. Also to be noted is that e-waste should never be disposed along with garbage and household wastes.
- What should be the role of manufacturers of electronics in this process?
For one they should design their systems to recover and reuse every material used in their products like lead, copper, aluminum and others. Secondly, the manufacturers along with distributors and retailers should undertake the responsibility to recycle and dispose of unserviceable electronic equipment.
- What are your recommendations for better management of e-waste in Goa?
Creation of awareness among all stake holders in the e-waste chain on the effect improperly treated e-waste can have on our environment. In addition we need to extend the lifespan of all electronic and electrical equipment before it fails so that it remains out of the waste system for as long as possible. We also need to ensure that all e-waste is handed over to authorized recyclers approved by the Goa State Pollution Control Board only.