Ever wondered what happens to the used batteries, CDs and outdated television sets that we throw into the garbage bins? These are hazardous e-waste, containing substantial quantities of lead, cadmium, chromium and flame-retardant plastics. They reach scrapyards on the outskirts of the city – such as the ones at Rajarajeshwari Nagar, Jnana Bharathi railway station — where children are made to work.
Inhaling or handling such substances and being in contact with them on a regular basis can damage the brain, nervous system, lungs, kidneys and the reproductive system.
According to the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board, Bangalore produces 10,000 tonnes of e-waste per month. The amount of e-waste generated poses a grave threat to the environment as well as to public health. It affects the life of workers in the scrapyards. Batteries, CDs and floppies come under E-waste.
Citizens in apartments and offices are now acting to dispose off e-waste more appropriately. Lata Ramesh, who lives in the St Johns Woods apartment complex in Koramangala, keeps her waste batteries, CDs and floppies separately and dumps them in a waste bin arranged for the whole complex. Along with her the whole complex housing 400 families does the same.
Lata says that initially only a couple of ladies showed interest and would dump their wastes dutifully. Later the scenario changed. "Now we are actively practicing collection of e-waste and have taken a step forward in collecting even dry waste like plastic bottles, milk bags, cartons, soap covers, etc.," she adds.
Sahana Mohan, who lives in the same apartment complex dumps all her electronic waste in the separate bin in the complex. These are not the only ones practicing e-waste management, more and more people are now following this simple way to be environment friendly.
Further explaining this Sahana says: "It is nothing difficult. We contacted the e-waste management NGO Saahas and now I just have to keep my old batteries, CDs and Floppies in the new bin especially made for these. In this way we are also educating our children to be environmental friendly."
Saahas is a key link in the e-waste chain. The NGO collects the e-waste from the collection bins. Saahas has partnered with WeP Peripherals, a Bangalore-based IT company in a joint venture. WeP does the major part of funding for Saahas for the e-waste collection.
Padma Shastry, one of the coordinators of Saahas, says that the initiative was born two years back in April 2006. "Right now we are concentrating only on the collection of batteries, CDs and floppies, as all others require different ways and means to recycle," explains Padma.
Saahas has now set up nine public collection points in the city where people can come and drop some of their household e-waste. These collection points have a special bin arranged for the waste. A 3 foot-tall black, slender steel bin with a slit opening for CDs and batteries stands with posters attached on the top. The bin has in built wheels so that it can be moved and kept in a place that can be spotted easily. It is slender and does not take a lot of space.
Along with the public collection points, the initiative includes collection points in 20 schools in the city and some offices. New in the list are apartments and housing complexes. "Right now, we have only three to four apartments/housing complexes that are contributing to the collection of e-waste. We are trying to increase this number and involve the public more into this," says Padma.
Apartments: If you live in an apartment, Saahas can setup a collection bin there for a charge.
Schools: A number of schools already have collections points so if you child studies in any of these schools, that’s another route to disposal. See list at the end of this article.
Public drop-off: Saahas has also setup nine public collection points.
1. Safina Plaza, Commercial Street
2. Landmark store in Forum Mall, Koramangala
3. G K Vale Photo at M G Road, Indiranagar and Jayanagar
4. Fab Malls at Indiranagar and Bannerghatta Road
5. Fitness One at Koramangala and Jayanagar
#431, 8th Cross, 1st Block, Jayanagar, Bangalore
Tel: 41689889, response AT saahas.org
WeP Peripherals Ltd
40/1A, Basappa Complex, Lavelle Road, Bangalore Tel: 66112208
To set up a collection bin in an apartment complex, an initial amount of Rs.3500 must be paid to Saahas, after that there are no other fees required ever for the timely collection or for any other promotional programme. After paying this amount, a bin is set up in the common area of the apartment complex (usually near the security room). Collection is done once in two months and Saahas collectors take it to their office.
At the Saahas office, the e-waste is further segregated into batteries, CDs and floppies. The lot is then sent to e-Parisara, which is an authorised company for recycling e-waste located in Dobaspet industrial area, in the outskirts of the city. The Saahas office is in Jayanagar and the transportation of e-waste is done through trucks.
e-Parisara pays a nominal amount for the CDs; it does not pay Saahas for the batteries and the floppies. Sahaas pays for the transport on its own. Padma says that in a month they collect around 40 kg of e-waste from the collection points that are active now. "In January, we collected 45 kg including that from the apartments," she says.
Right now, not many citizens are approaching Saahas for setting up collection bins. Saahas does get calls roughly once a month from citizens who want to dispose off their house hold e-waste in cartons. In these cases, Saahas recommends that citizens use the public collection points.
Saahas is currently publicising this initiative more by asking volunteers to stand near the public collection bins and educating people, by distributing flyers, etc., in public places and also by visiting different apartment complexes and educating people while persuading them to put up bins. They hope to increase the amount of waste collected in the coming years.
The next time you enter Landmark to search for a book you can contribute your bit in recycling hazardous waste by putting your old batteries, worn out CDs and floppies in a bin standing in one corner inviting you to put in your e waste.
Schools with e-waste collection bins: Bishop Cottons Girls High School, Innisfree (J P Nagar), Gurukul (Avalahalli), N K S English School (Majestic), Chinmaya Vidyalaya, St Johns School, Delhi Public School (South), St Euphrasis School, Jyothi Nivas College, Bishop Cotton Boys High School, Mirambika School for the New Age, Little Flower Public High School, Baldwin Boys, Baldwins Girls, Shri Vani, Frank Anthony, Sacred Hearts School, B M English School, Presidency School, J S S Public School, Ashok Nagar Girls School.