India has not yet started a programme to formally train people in tackling electronic waste which has been increasing three times faster than any other solid waste, an expert said here on Monday.
"There is neither any course nor training for e-waste disposal anywhere in the country while there is at least a six-month certificate course in most of the developed countries," said P. Bineesha, executive director of International Institute of Waste Management, Bhopal, at the first India International Science Fair (IISF) at IIT Delhi.
Interestingly, she said, the lion's share of electronic waste or e-waste disposal currently is managed by untrained and self-employed people in the informal sector and they are not doing a bad job.
"These untrained e-waste workers may be illiterate but they are highly innovative and possess a spirit of entrepreneurship. They either re-use a gadget or take out the components and recycle them and very little is left for final disposal."
There were about 25,000 people picking up and processing e-waste and about 4,000 traders, Bineesha said. Thus, India's record in tackling e-waste is - curiously - better than that of some developed countries, but that situation would not last long, she said.
In the developed world, the entire equipment is crushed and then its valued metal or/and other content is extracted if possible. But in India, the equipment is dismantled carefully and each component is retrieved to be either re-used or made to yield its valued content, she said.
"Some efforts in e-waste disposal have lately been seen in the formal sector, but their presence is minuscule, with only 65 such units across the country, out of which 35 exist in Bengaluru." Bineesha said the goal of 'Reduce-Recycle-Reuse' could only be successful when manufacturers begin to apply themselves seriously to the concept of 'Reduce'.
"Manufacturers should have a 'Reduce' policy also in mind and not just sales promotion." G. Madhavan Nair, former chairman of ISRO, supported her idea of skill-development in e-waste disposal and said the initiative in that direction must be made by the government.