BENGALURU: The city is the third-largest producer of e-waste in India, preceded by Mumbai and Delhi. But Bengaluru's official recycling units are woefully underutilised as around 70 per cent of e-waste is handled by the unorganised sector and the rest by organisations registered with the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB).
The need of the hour, according to environment experts, is to create awareness among individuals about formal and responsible disposal of e-waste. Taking a step in this direction, two city-based nonprofits, Saahas and Environmental Synergies in Development (Ensyde), are collaborating with post offices and Bangalore One centres to set up e-waste collection units in their premises.
"We have been encouraging schools and other institutions to set up e-waste collection centres on their premises. However, not everyone has access to those," said Divya Tiwari, CEO, Saahas. "People do not want to carry heavy electronics to far-flung authorised collection centres and high logistics costs do not allow organisations like ours to collect door-to-door."
Since this January, 12 drop-off boxes have been set up in Bengaluru South and 1.98 tonne of e-waste has been collected. The non-profits have reached out to 34 resident welfare associations and 50 institutions (including schools, colleges, hospitals, retail outlets and malls). A van is scheduled to collect the waste from the drop-off points every month.
The onus is on households to transport e-waste to authorised collection centres. The process has not been monetised, which is why people often resell equipment to unauthorised collectors for a few rupees. The latter do not follow scientific or safe processes to extract metals, causing pollution.
Saahas and Ensyde are seeking funds to expand to other parts of the city. Whitefield is next on their list, Tiwari said, given the high number of IT companies and tech-savvy residents in the locality. Employees of software firm VMware are on board as part of its their citizen philanthropy initiative. "Bengaluru has provided us with jobs, but is now exploding. At an individual level, we are all adding to the imbalance in environmental equilibrium and it is our responsibility to control the damage we are causing," said Chirag Arora, senior member of technical staff, VMware, who is associated with this project.
Manvel Alur, founder, Ensyde, said that funding will be used to buy more bins (each cost around Rs 10,000) and introduce IT intervention."
The Economic Times