The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has finally woken up to the problem of disposal of electronic waste or e-waste generated in the city.
Officials said its solid waste management (SWM) department was working on a proposal to place e-waste bins in the city to provide people a safer way to get rid of e-waste, which includes discarded computers, old batteries, mobile phones, etc.
The scheme is part of the BMC’s five-year plan to rejuvenate the deteriorating waste management practices in the city.
According to a study on ‘Electronic Waste Management in India’ conducted by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry in India and Frost and Sullivan in April 2014, Mumbai generates 96,000 tonnes of the total 12.5 lakh tonnes of e-waste generated in the country every year. The figure is highest among other metros such as Delhi-NCR and Bangalore, which produce 67,000 tonnes and 57,000 tonnes of e-waste every year, respectively, the study says. In the absence of a scheme and a separate recycle centre, people sell their e-waste to local scrap dealers leading to the toxic e-waste being dumped along with other domestic waste in the landfills.
Prakash Patil, chief engineer of the SWM department, said, “We are planning to appoint private contractors who will be responsible for every stage of e-waste disposal, from collection to dismantling, refurbishing and then recycling the e-waste in separate centres. We are still working on the modalities of the new proposal.” The BMC, however, is yet to take a decision on the number of e-waste bins to be installed in the city.
Another civic official said the BMC might also consider a new scheme as part of the existing “debris on call” model. Under this scheme, which was implemented last year, BMC has started door-to-door service to collect debris and silt from private properties undertaking repair or renovation work. “Since e-waste mainly consists of toxic material, we will be also co-ordinating with the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) to create guidelines to be followed by the contractors involved in the service,” the official said.
Meanwhile, though city activists have welcomed BMC’s move, they want the scheme to be implemented soon. Priya Ubale, an activist, said, “Though we have undertaken several awareness programmes against the hazardous e-waste, we haven’t received a great response from citizens or the local body. If this scheme is implemented well, it is the way to go forward in waste management.”