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Infotech titans wield broom on e-waste

Calcutta, Oct. 9: Industry representatives have joined hands to create an infrastructure for recycling the growing dump of discarded electronic products in the country.

E-waste includes discarded mobile phones, CDs, DVDs, floppy disks, tapes and other electronic components. These discarded items contain harmful components like lead, cadmium, mercury and PVC, all of which are non bio-degradable.

Mait, the apex body for the hardware industry, and Nasscom, the representative of the software industry, have joined hands to create awareness among the stakeholders.

Mait executive director Vinnie Mehta said, 'The idea is to create recycling hubs in every region where e-waste from surrounding areas will be accumulated. We are also trying to bring the local waste collectors into the loop as they have access to every household in their locality.'

Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Pune have already been identified as locations for recycling units.

E-parisara, a non-government initiative, is already in the pilot testing stage. The facility handles one tonne of e-waste daily. The Maharashtra government is also trying to upgrade its hazardous waste handling units to treat e-waste.

India generates $1.5 billion worth of e-waste annually, which amounts to 1050 tonnes of electronic scrap material. Mumbai and Delhi top the list of e-waste generating cities.

While the government is working on legislation regarding illegal handling of electronic waste, Mait feels that without the proper infrastructure for scientific and environment-friendly recycling, legislation will not produce results.

'The recycling business is quite profitable. E-waste recycling is lucrative as the components and materials contain valuable materials like gold, copper, plastic and glass,' said Mehta. 'However, it is necessary to ensure that a continuous supply of recyclable material reaches the facilities to make the business self-sustaining.'

There are other issues related to e-waste that affect both the hardware industry and the consumer.

'Who pays for the recycling is a major concern,' said Mehta. 'If the hardware manufacturer has to pay, it would reflect in the price of the PC. This in turn will fuel sales in the unorganised sector, which can escape the extra burden. The sales of the organised sector will suffer for adopting better business practices.'

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