In the previous blog about e-waste, “Let’s Navigate E-Waste”, we read some basic information about e-waste and its composition with a slight touch to statistics around e-waste. In this blog let's see how we as individuals can deal with e-devices that turn into e-waste.
We may not control consumer buying habits but surely we can educate people about sustainability and correct disposal of waste materials. The ideal scenario would be that people become wise about their e-possessions or any in general. In order to do that we can walk through the waste pyramid and see what best we can do. We can definitely reduce new purchases if old devices are still functioning. When we are buying a new electronic or electrical device, we can ask ourselves a few questions: Do I really need to buy it? Can I continue using the old one? This surely is an ideal case because it is difficult to convert our minds and keep our expectations away.
If we still want to buy a new one then we can ask further questions: Can I donate it to someone needy? Why should I keep this unused thing at my home if I have got a replacement? Is there anyone willing to buy with minimal cost? Where can I drop it for authorized recycling? The recycling of e-waste needs to be carried out carefully with no or minimal impact on the environment and humans. That's why we should handover our e-waste to authorized recycling centers who has permission from the Pollution Control Board or Committee instead of the informal sector people like local scrapwala who might handle it in an unsafe manner.
Asking the right questions will lead our e-waste landing up at right place. And that's what we all want, a sustainable way towards everything including waste.
But for e-waste, to land up at the right place, how can one deal with? Here is what I did which is mostly doable by anyone, and is pretty simple.
When I realized a few years ago that I have used 5 mobile phones in 10 years and I could not trace where most of them went, I became cautious about our e-devices at my home and took the following actions.
Borrow over Buying New: I stopped buying new devices when old ones are still functional. And in the cases I knew I would use those devices for a limited time, I thought of borrowing them from friends or neighbors when needed.
Segregate Your e-waste: In this process, an important step is to start segregating e-waste items. The big ones we do segregate anyway like say microwave ovens but for smaller ones like wires, batteries, chargers, etc. as well we should segregate and not let go in mixed waste. I started keeping e-waste materials separate in a box.
Audit for Usability: Then we can have a sort of audit (every year or every 6 months) about our e-waste items and then find which can be used and which needs to be discarded.
The ones which can be used can be donated if we do not want to continue using them.
Otherwise, all the e-waste items can be sent to the authorized e-waste recycling units or to mediators who can handover to such units.
Locate nearby authorized e-waste recycling/collection center: We can find these centers on the internet and the government also issues the list. When I looked for options near me, I found plenty of them in Pune, Maharashtra which includes SWaCH Organization, Rudra Environmental Solutions, Janwani NGO, and Poornam Ecovision Foundation who could collect our e-waste and take it further.
Spread Words of Awareness: Once you go through these steps, you can inspire others by passing your knowledge and creating awareness. I started e-waste collection drives at my residence apartment and now regularly our e-waste is collected and given to recycling instead of landing up in mixed waste.
These are simple steps anyone can carry. See, how easy it is! It only needs a willingness to contribute to the betterment of people and the environment.
This is what we can do individually however, there are laws declared about e-waste in India which are available on the internet. The key part of that is producers should take responsibility for handling products after the end of life and recycling should be carried out by authorized recyclers. As a consumer, we can always check about disposal mechanisms when we are making some buying choices. And as a business owner, we can always stay informed about government guidelines and industry standards for pollution control and safe disposal of waste materials.
I hope we all will be able to conduct an e-waste audit at our places as like any other audit.
If anyone needs any guidance in locating authorized recycling/collection centers for their city/area or any information kindly reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org