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Rana Muhammad Masud

The Report

No rules, regulations on harmful e-waste disposal

২০১৫ অক্টোবর ১১ ২০:৪৪:৩১
No rules, regulations on harmful e-waste disposal

Haphazard disposal of e-waste (unusable electrical and electronic goods) has become a cause of headache in the absence of any rules and regulations, as it is posing serious health risks unabatedly.

The government has no initiative yet to put in place any rules and regulations in this connection. Many developed countries are struggling to handle disposal of the growing volume of e-waste.

As Bangladesh has adopted the information and communication technology (ICT) as a tool of development, the use of electrical and electronic goods has increased to a great extent. As the e-waste is a new issue, the people are not that much aware about disposal of such goods. Resultantly, the health risks are increasing. So experts think the government should take necessary initiatives in this connection.

According to the Forest and Environment Ministry officials, a draft of e-waste management rules was finalized in 2013. After that there had been no further progress to that end. Now work is going on for putting in place a legal framework.

Forest and Environment Ministry additional secretary (environment pollution control cell) GM Salehuddin told The Report, “E-waste is a new issue for us. We need more awareness of the people about this. We are trying to raise the awareness. A committee headed by the Additional Director General of the Environment Directorate has been assigned to frame a set of rules in this connection. They are working.”

He also said, “Now we are paying more attention to the disposal of medical waste. The disposal of e-waste will come next.”

E-waste means electrical and electronic products or their parts not usable or the parts discarded at the manufacturing level.

Forest and Environment Ministry’s Pollution Control Cell deputy secretary Md Mainul Huq Ansari told The Report, “E-waste contains toxic materials like lead, mercury, chromium, arsenic etc at an excessive level. These harmful materials damage the human nervous system, kidney, brain, heart etc. It also damages the eco-system. With the growing use of e-products the volume of e-waste is also rising and leaving a harmful impact.”

A meeting was held on e-waste management on June 21 last, he said. “In that meeting a 15-member committee had been formed with Environment Directorate’s Additional Director General Kazi Sarwar Imtiaz Hashemi as its convener to put in place a legal framework on e-waste management. They were given three months to submit their report. But they are still working.”

About this, Imtiaz Hashemi said on Thursday, “We are trying to prepare a guideline on e-waste management. A law will not work at this moment. We hope we will be able to finalise the draft of the guideline within two months.”

An official at the Environment Directorate said at present there are more than 13 crore mobile phone users in the country. There are about 10 lakh land phone users. Every year about 7.5 lakh mobile phone sets are being imported. With the economic development the use of modern technology like mobile sets, televisions, computers, fridges etc has increased. Resultantly, the volume of e-waste has also increased.

Executive Director Anisur Rahman of the Prism Bangladesh Foundation working on household and medical waste disposal told The Report, “No move of the government is in sight about disposal of e-waste. What is happening is being done informally. There should be an inventory on e-waste. The people are not aware about e-waste. There can be a committee for raising the awareness about e-waste.”

He suggested adoption of the 3-R policy—waste reduction, rehabilitation and recycling—in e-waste management. “Besides, the wholesalers of the country can collect the e-waste by providing after-sale services,” he added.

Executive Director AHM Maksud Sinha of the Waste Concern, an entity working on waste management, told The Report, “E-waste is not like any other waste. No part of e-waste is unusable. It can be recycled. The e-waste emits the green-house gas excessively. At present e-waste is being collected and recycled in Bangladesh without any institutional support. This has exposed the people concerned to health risks.”

He stressed the need for a synergy between the institutional and non-institutional efforts on e-waste disposal. He said, “There should be a survey on e-waste alongside an inventory.”

He also informed that a report on e-waste with financing from JICA was almost finalized.

The city corporations are doing the management of solid waste and in some cases medical waste. But they have not yet built the capacity of e-waste disposal.

About this Dhaka South City Corporation’s chief waste management officer Capt Rakib said, “We are not doing the e-waste management. But we are thinking of the work plan on its management in view of its importance.”

An official at the Environment Directorate said only the Azizu Recycling and e-waste Company was now working on e-waste management. The company was exporting a portion of the e-waste. The remaining e-waste is being used for setting up recycling units in the country.

Azizu Recycling managing director Md Saidur Rahman Shaheen said, “We have set up a recycling plant in Narayanganj based on our experience gathered from Singapore. E-waste is being collected from non-institutional sources across the country. Mainly the circuit boards are being exported to Singapore as the radiation from them is high.”

The circuit boards are taken to Singapore for recycling, Saidur Rahman said, adding, “We now want to do it in the country. We need 2-2.5 crore dollars for setting up a plant for that.”

He also said, “We are doing it out of social responsibility. If there is a set of rules, it will be easy for us to do it.”

He suggested introduction of bank loans for this sector.

E-waste management in other countries: A joint study of the UN and the Interpol on August 30 said many countries in the worl were struggling to ensure proper e-waste management including recycling. In Europe, the largest market of electronic products, only one-third of e-waste is being recycled properly. Apart from that, a large number of cell phones, computers and televisions are being traded illegally.

The report says the Euro-zone countries are working on recycling 85 percent of electrical and electronic products. Of the countries, Sweden and Norway are closer to achieving that goal. On the other hand, the rate of e-waste recycling in Romania, Spain and Cyprus is 20 percent.

Ends/thereport24.com/AR/Oct 11, 2015