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German expert urges e-waste assessment

Says existing informal recycling system poses environment and health hazards

A German e-waste management expert has underlined the need to immediately conduct a Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipments (WEEE) assessment in Chennai.

Such an assessment is required to prepare an inventory of e-waste as the present informal recycling system posed "great environmental and health threat", said Jurgen Porst, the expert serving as the senior adviser with the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board.

Addressing Enviro-2005, a conference on environmental safety and health, organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry, southern region, here on Tuesday, Dr. Porst urged the Tamil Nadu Government to establish a nodal agency in Chennai, on the lines of that set up in Karnataka, to look into e-waste management in the city.

Scientific landfill:
It is imperative for Chennai and Kerala devise ways to introduce scientific e-waste and hazardous waste management systems, including creation of a scientific landfill using compacted clay layer, HDPE sheets and geo-textile sheets.

Stating this, he said it was important to train and upgrade the formal recycling units, as the crude recycling practices, particularly the open air burning of toxic metals pose health and environment hazards. The units were attracted to the field because of the small quantity of gold and high value metal deposits found in the electronic components.

No policy: A CII press release said Dr. Porst observed at the meeting that there was no policy either at the State or national level to address the challenges posed by e-waste.

Delhi disposed a minimum of 12, 000 tonnes of e-waste in 2004. Bangalore, which had 1,322 software companies, 38 hardware units and business process outsourcing units with a workforce of 60, 000, disposed 8, 000 tonnes of the waste last year.

Recycling units: However,there were only two modern recycling units in Bangalore.

Dr. Porst said the State Government should consider incorporating extended manufactures responsibility in their IT policies prescribing norms that the manufacturers and user industries had to follow while disposing e-waste.

In India, the average lifetime of a computer is expected to drop from the present eight years to six years in a couple of years.

SOURCE:The Hindu Newspaper Dated: Wednesday, November 23, 2005.
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