Innovative ideas for managing E-waste

By Vasanthkumar Mysoremath

After attending the stakeholders’ interactive deliberation on “E-Waste Management in Mysuru”, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in association with SDM-IMD and listening to the talks and presentations of experts, I felt that India is lagging behind in tackling this toxic E-waste menace and has a long way to go.

It is predicted that by 2020 computer E-waste will increase by 500% and discarded mobiles will be 18 times and televisions by 2 times in India which is No.5 in generating E-Waste worldwide. Recovery of metals, minerals and rare earth elements from various components in the electronic gadgets is a costly affair and India does not possess its own indigenous technology or methodology to tackle this problem.

It was revealed that talks are on with some existing E-waste handlers and that a PPP/MOU may materialise in due course. But what was left unanswered was, what happens to residues after recovering precious metals, minerals etc; the question of how such waste is to be managed was left open and no action plan was in sight for managing mercury contents in tube lights, LED TV screens, bulbs etc., discarded through household waste or that thrown in street corners.

Here are innovative easy solutions to tackle this major E-waste problem; that are simple, doable, replicable, economical, sustainable and have the potential for Start-Ups/jobs creation. I presented this in a nutshell at the CII-SDM-IMD workshop and it was well received.

(1) E-Hollow Blocks – Use E-Waste to create green building material:

– Collect e.waste like motherboards, diodes, LED bulbs, tube lights, etc., that contain toxic elements
– Pound them into bits and manageable pieces
– Take a readymade Hollow Block
– Pour these E-Waste bits and pieces and arrest them forever in the hollow place, close it with whatever construction material available, including pieces of discarded asbestos sheets (another hazardous material)
– Use these w-Waste filled hollow blocks for constructing walls, compounds, etc.

(2) E-solid bricks:

– Collect e.waste discarded by E-Waste Recovery plants or those with municipalities
– Pound them into bits and manageable pieces
– Take six measures of river sand or m.sand and two measures of cement
– Mix well and then with the required quantity of water prepare the mix as we prepare for mud bricks
– Pour one measure of e.waste and mix well – this is ‘E.brick mix’
– Pour the e.brick mix into brick making box, press with the handle till excess water comes out – allow to dry say for about 4 hours
– Then Slowly open the box and slide out e.brick on to some thinly spread sand
– Solar dry for a few days with a periodical sprinkling of water so that they get set and ready as a green building material.
– Use the “E-brick” for construction of partition walls or compound walls

Advantages of E-blocks and E-bricks

– Deadly toxic E-waste that contaminates groundwater can be arrested permanently.
– Saves planet earth from environmental pollution
– E-waste management is made easy for authorities handling waste
– The Construction industry can adopt these as green initiatives and get sops for their contribution.
– Will stop health problems of slum area women and children engaged in unscientific handling of E-Waste.
– Pourakarmikas or their families can be encouraged to start such pounding centres and supply the bits and pieces of E-waste to hollow block/brick manufacturers with whom an MoU may be signed through MCC or other stakeholders/industries. Rag pickers can be engaged to enable them to earn some regular earnings by picking and delivering the E-Waste from garbage dumps in urban areas.

The above innovative ideas will result in a win-win situation in managing E-Waste. With proper planning and implementation of these innovative ideas, it is possible to completely arrest every bit of E-waste and avoid contamination of groundwater. (The writer is WB-honoured Innovator and Environmentalist)

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