Though Odisha produces about 7,000-8,000 tonnes of electronic waste (e-waste) annually, the producers are yet to apply proper methods to dismantle and recycle this, say the officials.
As a result, Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) has issued notice to 43 producers including Intex, LG, Samsung, Acer, Vodafone, Sharp India, Carrier Media, Sukam Power, HP, Hitachi, Blue Star, Micromax and Xolo to get their act together. It has asked the organizations what steps they have taken for setting up of collection centers in Odisha for collection of end-of-life equipment.
According to the provisions of the E-Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011, the producers have to collect e-waste generated from the end-of-life equipment in line with Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and to ensure it is channelized to registered dismantler or recycler.
"Around 13 producers have responded to the notice of the pollution control board while we are expecting others to respond. They have to ensure recycling of the products. Otherwise it would affect the environment," said D.K. Behera, senior Scientist of OSPCB.
He said while the pollution watchdog has authorised 13 e-waste collection centers in the state, there are no registered functional recyclers. While 10 collection centres are in Bhubaneswar, one each is in Cuttack, Sambalpur and Berhampur. Besides, there are three recycling companies that have set up their units outside the state.
However, the state has no authorised recycling unit except a dismantling unit-cum collection center set up by Sani Clean Pvt ltd in Khurdha, said Behera.
The OSPCB has also asked 851 institutions, including banks (31), engineering colleges (102), hospitals (127), hotels (75), industries (470) software companies (15), telecom (8) and universities (10) for details about the manner of their e-waste disposal in the state.
Environmentalists have raised concern over the dumping of e-waste into rivers and drains that may contaminate the soil and water with heavy metals and other impurities.
"It is the responsibility of the electronic equipment producers to collect the e-waste from people or the users. They should set up regional recycling units in the state itself and the government should strictly implement the guidelines notified by the center. Even the drinking water at the locations, where the e-wastes are dumped, contains a high amount of toxic metals," said Ranjan Panda, convener of NGO Water Initiative Odisha.
Prithviraj Sahu, a software expert, said the extended producer's responsibility (EPR) specified in the E-Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011, needs strict enforcement. EPR is an environment protection strategy that makes the producer responsible for the entire lifecycle of the product, especially for taking back, recycling and finally disposing off the product.