Bhubaneswar, May 2: Your discarded cell phone or defunct washing machine will soon find a safe resting place. Safe for the environment and people, that is.
The first centre for collection of electronic waste (or e-waste) in the state became operational yesterday. The centre has been set up at Mancheswar Industrial Estate and will collect e-waste from the city and other parts of the state.
Electronic waste, which consists of any appliance that uses an electric power supply and has reached the end of its life, can emit toxic fumes if not disposed of in the correct way.
The State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) has authorised Green Vortex, a private company, with collecting and treating e-waste. The firm will collect electronic waste generated in the state and dispose it in a scientific manner.
SPCB officials said the state generates nearly 3,000 tonnes of e-waste annually, out of which Bhubaneswar generates nearly 800 tonnes of electronic junk. The board officials said e-waste management was the need of the hour for a growing city like Bhubaneswar.
“The city has been witnessing a rise in the use of electronic appliances such as personal air conditioners, television sets and washing machines. Often, discarded components of these appliances are dumped carelessly. Apart from that, the quantity of e-waste generated from computers and laptops is high in the city. Educational institutes are the largest generators of computer-based e-waste,” said senior environmental engineer of SPCB Nihar Ranjan Sahoo.
Usually, ragpickers collect the e-waste and try to dispose it by burning. This poses health hazards as electronic waste emits toxic gases when burned. Waste components that do not have any resale or reuse value are openly burnt or disposed of in open dumps resulting in emission of poisonous gases.
Earlier, the SPCB had implemented the E-waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011, in the city under the Environment Protection Act. The SPCB will monitor the process of collection and disposal of the e-waste. The board will also have to ensure that the disposal is carried out properly without causing any harm to the environment.
“Modern lifestyles have resulted in the generation of tonnes of electronic waste annually. Often these are indiscriminately dumped raising chances of environmental and health hazards. With the implementation of this new rule, electronic waste will be collected in a proper manner so that it can be disposed of in a scientific manner,” said member secretary of SPCB Siddhant Das.
The rules entrust the urban local bodies with segregating electronic waste from municipal solid waste and channelising it through a collection centre.
“We will soon communicate this to the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC),” said Sahoo. He said awareness campaigns would be conducted in the city, which is one of the major contributors to e-waste generation in the state.
The collection centre will collect e-waste and store it.
“We will collect electronic waste through our teams spread across the state and it will be stored at the Mancheswar centre. After that, the waste will be sent to our workshop at Manesar in Haryana,” said regional officer of Green Vortex Bibekananda Patnaik. Patnaik said the number of collection centres could be increased looking at the amount of electronic waste generated in various parts of the state.
Any appliance using an electric power supply that has reached it’s the end of its life is considered electronic waste. Appliances such as cell phones, personal computers, and data storage devices that have reached their end-of-life fall under e-waste. E-waste is considered hazardous as certain electronic components contain substances such as lead, cadmium, lead oxide and toxic gases. If not treated properly they can lead to soil contamination, contamination of groundwater and occupational health hazards.
According to one estimate, the country generates 4.7 lakh tonnes of electronic waste annually and Odisha’s contribution to this is 3,000 tonnes. Per capita electronic waste generation is 21 kilogram annually in the country.