Free Press Journal

Mumbai: BMC shows a keen interest in e-waste recycling programme


A pile of electronic waste on a roadside in Guiyu. Much of modern electronic equipment contains toxic ingredients and as much as 4,000 tonnes of toxic e-waste is discarded every hour. Vast amounts are routinely and often illegally shipped as waste from Europe, USA and Japan to countries in Asia because it is easier and cheaper to dump the problem on poorer countries with lower environmental standards. Workers involved in dismantling e-waste are exposed to serious health hazards.

Mumbai: An e-waste recycling programme started by SmartRiverside, a California based non-profit organisation that provides refurbished computers to low income families, has grabbed the attention of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). The initiative has garnered a positive response and it has provided 5,000 computers to underprivileged kids.

SmartRiverside collects electronic waste and reuses it for hands-on education, where low-income students learn how to refurbish the discarded computers. The members participating in the programme receive eight hours of training where instructions on reassembling the discarded materials of old computers are provided. Moreover, the families not only get to take the refurbished home but also get paid.

Speaking at a US-India conference on waste management, US Consul Thomas Vajda shared some examples of waste management initiatives in the country. Impressed by the e-waste recycling initiative, Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta said such programmes would bring a change in the lives of underprivileged kids.

Speaking exclusively to the Free Press Journal, Mehta said, “Several underprivileged kids are deprived of such facilities. It would be wonderful if we could provide them refurbished computers by simultaneously managing waste.” However, Mehta said currently there is no association with the organisation for implementing the programme.

The US generates about 260 million tons of solid waste, whereas India already produces some 960 million tons a year.
Vajda added, “When you consider the output of the world’s other 190-plus countries, it becomes clear that waste management is a global challenge. Several major US cities have made it a goal by 2040 of becoming Zero Waste Cities.”