Having more than one mobile phone has become a necessity instead of luxury, and so the story goes with practically every electronic device we own. But what happens when these gadgets become obsolete? We trash it, with Mumbai city discarding over 10 thousand metric tons of electronic waste or e-waste annually. But now, a group of concerned citizens are doing their bit to educate people in recycling this e-waste properly and efficiently.
The Dangers of E-waste
The government has classified e-waste as hazardous waste. When this waste gets mixed up with garbage it releases toxic materials into the environment. When these toxic elements get into the ground, it has the potential to contaminate ground water. E- waste can have other harmful effects on our health too. For instance, most e-waste in landfills ends up being burnt, and this releases dangerous gases into the air.
Citizen Groups Spread E-waste Awareness
It all started with a newspaper article that Mumbai-based couple Nipa and Anil Ranka happened to read one day, listing the various hazardous effects of discarding e-waste along with our garbage. Inspired, Anil and Nipa decided to take action and wrote an article listing all the problems of e-waste and pasted it on the walls of their housing society as well as few other neighboring societies. They then contacted an NGO, The E-incarnation Company which specializes in recycling e-waste. Together, they installed several e-waste collection bins and urged people to dump their e-waste only in those bins. After an initially damp response, they are now flooded with requests from various societies looking at discarding e-waste responsibly.
From E-waste to E-gold
A typical haul of e-waste consists of pen drives, printers, keyboards, old DVDs and miscellaneous bits and pieces. This e-waste is then passed onto E-incarnation which proceeds to segregate the e-waste into re-usable and recyclable material. Re-usable material is handed over to different agencies to be refurbished and sold while recyclable material is stripped apart. Then various components in the machines are salvaged and material like wires, copper plating etc are sorted separately and recycled.
How can you help?
Around 10-12 bins have been installed by E-incarnation across the city. To participate in this initiative, you can write to Anil Ranka at email@example.com. Apart from this, you can also contact the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) which has recently started E-waste collection centers in certain parts of Mumbai. Remember, we all have to do our part if we want to protect our planet
Ashwini Priolker, Reporter, NDTV