All Who are Involved in Generating e-Waste are Responsible for Its Management, Including SMEs

Workable e-waste take back model: an Attero &IFC initiative for a cleaner and formal e-waste management.

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Attero Recycling along with International Finance Corporation (IFC) has launched a first of its kind initiative called workable e-waste take-back model to formalise e-waste management in India. In conversation here are Anil Sinha (Regional Head, Advisory Services, South Asia, IFC), Rohan Gupta (COO, Attero Recycling), Subrata Barman, (Sr Operations Officer, South Asia IFC).

Q: What is the workable e-waste take-back model?
Subrata Barman: Take back model is an endeavour to integrate the entire supply chain. Its nothing but a standard term used in Europe and Japan, where an unwanted refrigerator or laptop can be taken from a home to the reverse logistics and eventually in a factory which is responsible for managing the waste. Today, in India we don't have any such thing to enable us to do so. The model requires all the informal sector players to be fully integrated in the supply chain, so that the collection and recycling of e- waste is done in an organised manner.

If you look at the supply chain, there are three broad segments- collection, dismantling and recycling. Collection today is done informally and there is no way it can be tracked down. We are going to put in place an online MIS system, where all collected waste product by a franchise will be bar-coded and entered online, so that one can know how much waste was collected from a household and where it went next. We are going to identify people involved at various stages, make them aware and even provide them training. Dismantling has hazards and those involved should be trained, so that we'll have a safe and transparent structure with no possible leakage.

Q: How are Indian SMBs going to benefit from this initiative?
Rohan Gupta: Anyone who is a part of it will benefit from the initiative. Not only will it reduce carbon footprints, but also the needless utilisation of critical space to store e-waste. The rental for storage space is pretty high, so why not clean it up and use our premise for better revenue. Also, the stock of discarded electronic goods is a potential health hazard and a potential fire threat. So if we get rid of it properly, it can have monetary benefits, carbon footprint reduction benefits and above all health benefits.

Anil Sinha:
SMBs are very much involved in the e business. All who are involved in generating e-waste are responsible for its management. There is no rule that makes involvement imperative but there is a message for everybody that it's our responsibility, because further down the value chain there is an informal sector. They have an important role to play in both the collection and management of e-waste. So it's a two pronged approach where SMBs have an important role to play in this value chain.

Rohan Gupta:
There is a huge risk of data security. IT SMBs are providing services to companies outside data. They have to showcase how they are managing the data. If they don't get it recycled properly critical data can be misused.

Q: What is the current state of e-waste management in India?
Rohan Gupta: About 95% of our e-waste still goes to the unorganised sector and lands up in places like Meerut or Muradabd, where acid treatment, cyanide and open treatment is used to extract whatever they can. India is producing 8,000tonnes of e-waste and it is expected that by 2020 it'll reach 1.7-2 million. This is a big health and environmental concern. Also, illegal import of toxic e-wastes is also taking place in India.

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