Considering the growing environmental threats posed by e-waste, the state government has decided to establish an e-waste management incubator to tackle the menace
Amidst growing environmental concerns over accumulation and management of e-waste, the Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board (MSPCB) is planning to set up an incubation centre where people can dispose of their obsolete electronic parts.
MSPCB chairman CP Marak said the Meghalaya Basin Development Authority (MBDA), State Council of Science, Technology and Environment (SCSTE) and Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board intends to promote the incubation centre.
“We are working on a plan to ensure systematic collection and disposal of electronic waste (e-waste) in the state. There have been growing environmental concerns over accumulation and management of e-waste, which comprise among others discarded electronic appliances such as mobile phones, computers and television sets,” Marak said.
He said the collection and disposal of e-waste need to be done in a systematic manner so that it does not go into the municipal landfill or unauthorized hands, which will pollute the environment.
The Meghalaya’s capital city generates roughly 446 tons of e-waste annually. In absence of a proper waste disposal mechanism, toxic waste is largely collected by scrap dealers, mixed in municipal waste and dumped in landfills to be burnt openly or leach out and contaminate the land, water and soil. MSPCB officials said the Information & Technology department had already distributed computers to over 1000 schools spread across the state under the IT Education scheme funded by the North Eastern Council (NEC). “However, in the absence of proper electronic waste management where do we throw such electronic hardware once they are out of order or become obsolete,” they said.
According to the E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016, collectors of e-waste are to be authorised by the board only if they have been authorized by a registered recycler anywhere in the country.
“Right now, the authorised collector is JS Kharbithai who has tied up with a registered recycler. He is the only one who is being recognised to handle and channelise the electronic waste,” Marak said. “The public (consumers) can also give the electronic parts to the dealers directly as the latter have tied up with suppliers for taking back the electronic products.However, if people are unable to give the obsolete products to the dealers, they can come to the incubation centre and hand them over,” Marak said.
Again, manufacturers of major electronic products such as Panasonic and Sony fall under the Extended Producer Responsibility of the E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016.
“It is (therefore) their responsibility to take back the electronic products,” he said. The Rules, which came into force on October 1, 2016, state that Extended Producer Responsibility means the responsibility of any producer of electrical or electronic equipment to channelise e-waste and ensure environmentally sound management of such waste. Marak said it was mandatory for the producers to take back the electronic products. “The responsibility of the Board is to enforce the rules by giving authorization. We authorise the collectors so that only the authorised collectors can take away the obsolete products which could be TV sets, mobile phones, medical equipment or CFL bulbs,” he said.
Referring to Meghalaya, the board’s chairman said a preliminary assessment of various electronic products has been made and that it intended to make an inventory of different kinds of electronic products to analyze their composition.
“We intend to go for detailed stock-taking as we want to inventories the kind of products coming into Meghalaya. Whether TV sets are more or mobile phones are more, the composition of products will be analyzed,” he said.
On the status of e-waste in Meghalaya, Marak pointed out that it was not channelized properly. “As of now, we want to set up the mechanism to facilitate the incubation centre and we can have authorized collectors for not just Shillong but other towns as well,” he said.
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