Electronic-waste, comprising 900 kg of cellphone chargers and USB chords, about 1,000 cellphones, including the latest models of iPhone, 17 LCD screen TVs, a total of 50 CPUs and UPS, and 21 monitors, was collected within 10 hours of a pilot drive conducted in the jurisdiction of the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) on Sunday. At the end of the day, the volunteers weighed in with more than 2.5 tonnes of collected waste.
As part of the drive, a team of 800 volunteers — 600 of whom were college students, along with members of Police Nagrik Mitra and senior citizens — were stationed at 112 centres spread across eight zones in Pimpri-Chinchwad area. The volunteers found items as small as a button cell used in wristwatches to refrigerators, washing machines, air-conditioners, microwave ovens, televisions, coolers, heaters, CPUs, computer monitors, keyboards, UPS, pendrives.
An NGO, the Environment Conservation Association (ECA), has tied up with the PCMC for the project. Vikas Patil, founding member and chairman of the ECA, told The Indian Express, “The response to the drive reflects the increasing awareness about e-waste and its harmful effects… the residents seem unwilling to dispose it off casually to waste keepers.”
Being the first of its kind mass collection drive, covering the length and breadth of Pimpri-Chinchwad, which is also home to two major IT parks — in Hinjewadi and Talawde — such response to a day-long drive has now forced the civic body to ponder and have an effective system to not only manage but also dispose e-waste safely. PCMC Mayor Nitin Kalje said, “We will extend similar collection drives by partnering with NGOs and others working in the field. We are in the process of developing a mobile application, which will be used for e-waste collection. We will also conduct awareness drives on a regular basis, and have dedicated centres for e-waste collection.”
The volunteers, however, faced some hurdles during the drive. Residents of some of the upscale societies in Chinchwad and Wakad areas denied permission to set up collection centres on their society premises. Members of the NGO said they had campaigned extensively to promote the drive, and its results were visible. According to volunteers, Nidi-Pradhikaran area contributed maximum e-waste at the drive.
Patil said, “Some of the societies, where a majority of the residents were young professionals, denied permissions to our volunteers from even entering their premises to distribute the pamphlets. However, most of the co-operative residential societies cooperated. Schoolchildren, too, actively participated.” All the waste collected was transported to a government authorised free-recycling centre in Chikhali on the same day.