Thursday, October 2, 2008


MAIT pursues multi-city 'e-Waste' awareness campaign
Yogesh Gupta, Channelworld India09.30.2008

MAIT is creating industry awareness to address the crucial issue of e-Waste in India. A three-city national workshop on awareness and consultation on 'Guidelines for Environmentally Sound Management of e-Waste' was held at Chennai, Bangalore and Mumbai jointly organized by MAIT, GTZ, Greenpeace & Toxics Link. Several subject experts from Government, Industry, Recyclers and NGOs participated in the event supported by Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) and Department of Information Technology, Ministry of Communications & IT. "Information and telecom are fastest growing sectors in India with PC sales crossing 7.3 million units at 16 percent growth and cellular base up by 96 percent over last year. However, India is fast becoming e-Waste destination due to illegal imports, highly porous ports, mislabeling as; mixed metal scrap, cheap labor and weak environmental standards, weak enforcement mechanism and minimal awareness,"said Vinnie Mehta, Executive Director, MAIT. Manufacturing industry needs to be proactive in assuming responsibility in the absence of legislation. "The scenario is changing with the take- back programs conducted by some IT companies. There are 12 formal recyclers and informal recyclers associations across India and clean e-Waste channel in Bangalore addressing this issue," he added. We kick-started the series with a seminar at Delhi this July and might conduct one more in Kolkatta by the end of the year, he added.

Founded in 1982, MAIT (Manufacturers' Association for Information Technology), an apex body representing computer hardware, training and software industries has over 100 members including MNCs and local IT companies. A first-of-its-kind MAIT-GTZ e-Waste assessment study, to inventory e-Waste in the country, revealed that a total of 3.3 metric tons of e-Waste is generated annually in India, while an additional 50,000 MT is illegally imported into the country. However, only 19,000 MT of this is recycled due to high refurbishing and reuse of electronics products in the country and due to poor recycling infrastructure," said Mehta. A significant finding pointed 94 percent of studied organizations did not have any policy on disposal of obsolete IT products/e-Waste. Further, while a lot of business organizations were aware about e-Waste, the depth of knowledge was lacking, he said.

MoEF and Central Pollution Control Broad announced 'Guidelines for environmentally sound management of e-Waste'. Dr Lakshmi Raghupathy, Former Director, MoEF and advisor at MAIT said, "The main features of proposed e-Waste rules 2008 include: the proposed regulations provide policy and procedures for producers, collection agencies, dismantlers, recyclers, transporters etc.handling e-waste ; the specific clauses such as RoHS and EPR as required for handling e-waste."

The objective is to put in place an effective mechanism to regulate the generation, collection, storage, transport, import, export and environmentally sound recycling, treatment and disposal of e-waste, she added. "Since these guidelines are voluntary in nature, the electronics industry strongly feels that a regulation needs to be put in place to manage this problem," said Mehta.

It is estimated that e-Waste generated in India will touch 4.7 lakh tons by 2011, as per the study. Inclusive eco-friendly recycling is the need of the hour, Mehta added. Enabling regulation, effective collection system, implementation of import restrictions and environmentally sound technology for recycling will enable better management of e-Waste, he said. The trend has to shift from waste management to product life cycle backed by integration and regrouping of existing informal sector, stated Mehta.
from Channelworld India.

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