bE-Responsible: A two pronged approach to lower India e-waste burden

By auther pic. CSRBOX

October 8, 2020

bE-Responsible:  A two pronged approach to lower India e-waste burden

Door to door awareness at JP Nagar

50 million tons of electronic and electrical waste (e-waste) is produced globally a year. However only 20% of this is formally recycled. The remaining 80% either land up in landfills which ends up contaminating soil and groundwater, putting food supply systems and water sources at risk or are unofficially recycled (mostly in developing countries) subjecting workers to exposure to hazardous as well as  carcinogenic substances such as mercury, lead and cadmium. 


According to a report released from the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE) and the UN E-Waste Coalition in 2019, global e-waste production will reach 120 million tons per year by 2050 if immediate intervention is not planned and executed.


Even in India, electronic waste has been silently and steadily growing in the past decade. The measures taken to safely dispose it by the government, private entities and or social enterprises are scattered and few. Currently India generates close to 3.2 million tons per year and ranks in the top 3 countries that generate the most amount of e-waste per year. The other two countries which fare worse than India are China and USA.


Bangalore Civic fest

However, efforts by organisations like Saahas and Environmental Synergies in Development (ENSYDE) have been helping the country reduce the problem of e-waste through an initiative called bE-Responsible


Saahas, is a not for profit organization was set up in 2001 primarily focusses on programs based on the concepts of ‘Source Segregation and ‘Decentralized Waste Management’ within the framework of the Solid Waste Management Rules 2016. Environmental Synergies in Development (ENSYDE), established in 2003 as a consultancy organization and subsequently registered as a Trust in 2016  is focused on reducing the environmental footprint of organizations, establishments and institutions in India and as part of their work design and implement solutions that improve resource use efficiency – specifically energy, water and waste.

Saahas in partnership with Environmental Synergies in Development (ENSYDE) commenced the bE-Responsibleinitiative by in 2016. The need for doing this came from the fact that Bangalore generates close to 92000 tons per year and the team from both the organisations realised there is an immediate need to start working in this domain and help reduce the 92000 tons mark.


Collection drive in Sadashivanagar post lockdown

Over the last four years, the team at bE-Responsible has carried out over 334 successful campaigns and thereby reached over 13 lakh citizens through various formats ranging from street plays, competitions, radio, newspaper articles, presentations to door-to-door talks in several parts of Bengaluru.  This enabled widespread awareness of the masses who were educated about the issue and were also informed about responsible disposals.


Covering around 45 wards in the city, the initiative has so far collected over 76 tonnes of e-waste and placed over 40 public e-waste drop boxes at supermarkets, post offices, clubs, etc. The team also regularly collects e-waste from 80+scheduled collections. E-waste collected under this initiative is sent to Karnataka State Pollution Control Board-authorised recyclers which helps disposing the e-waste as per norms.


As per an estimation done by the team this has resulted in diverting toxic metals from landfills (452 kg) as well as reducing carbon emissions by 21916 kg as of July 2020.


Archana Tripathi, COO Saahas NGO says that "While at least some of the e-waste from bulk generators like Government and Corporate offices finds its way to authorized recyclers, almost all of the e-waste from domestic generators ends up in the landfills or gets recycled informally. Be-Responsible is our effort to showcase a pan-city collection network that provides easy, transparent and safe disposal options to domestic e-waste generators. We hope to replicate this in other cities with the help of CSR funds.”


After the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure continued effort the awareness sessions are being imparted through virtual sessions. Moreover, regular collection through the hotline number and e-waste collection drives are being organized so that the e-waste is not disposed of irresponsibly from the intervention areas.


Educating them young- E-waste games at HSR 

The team at  bE-Responsible highlights that the underlying factor in all of this which has resulted in such a positive impact and helped garner the team the reputation of a reliable service provider for e-waste disposal is because citizens are willing to change their behaviour and be more responsible towards the environment and subsequently ensure that public health is not compromised.


Manvel Alur, the CEO & Founder Ensyde says “Creating large scale awareness with the intent to make citizens responsible towards their environment, is key to the bE-Responsible Initiative. With the growing volumes of e-waste and the lack of available options for citizens to dispose this appropriately, the initiative brings simple solutions to address this issue. We look forward to increased citizen participation to enhance the adoption of this initiative in Bangalore and other cities in the country."


The success of bE-Responsible is dependent on its two-pronged approach of sensitization of the masses followed by collection of the e-waste which is subsequently sent to authorised recyclers. More such effective initiatives have to be implemented on an urgent basis if India has to lower its e-waste burden.


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