Maharashtra recycles only 1% of e-waste it generates: MPCB data

The state generates 10 lakh tonnes of e-waste annually, but only 975.25 tonnes of it was recycled while 11,015.49 tonnes was dismantled but yet to be recycled in the formal sector.

Maharashtra recycles only about 1 percent of total e-waste generated in the state, shows data from the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB). The state generates 10 lakh tonnes of e-waste annually, but only 975.25 tonnes of it was recycled while 11,015.49 tonnes was dismantled but yet to be recycled in the formal sector.

MPCB officials said they are in the process of enhancing e-waste recycling. Data of e-waste generation for 2019-20 was also shared with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

E-waste or electronic waste includes TV appliances, computers, phones, laptops, etc. Experts have raised concerns over the poor record in recycling of e-waste, despite Maharashtra being the top producer of e-waste in the country. According to officials, improper handling or recycling of e-waste will cause serious environmental issues if dumped in landfills or dumping grounds.

On Thursday, a virtual town hall was held by environmental organisation Waatavaran Foundation to address the growing waste management crisis in Maharashtra systematically and scientifically. The town hall was attended by waste management experts, members of civil society along with government officials.

“We are in the process of bringing the informal sector in the ambit of the formal sector to enhance e-waste recycling. It is also a major recommendation from our end to be added to the State Climate Action Plan,” said Nandkumar Gurav, Regional Officer (Headquarter), MPCB. He added that this is the latest available data on e-waste, and it has been shared with the CPCB.

As per the MPCB report of 2019-20, total municipal solid waste generated across the state was 84 lakh tonnes with daily generation of 22,945 tonnes. Of the daily waste generated, 98.7% was being collected and 15,980 tonnes or 70% was being scientifically treated. Maharashtra has annually generated the highest quantity of waste among all states for the past five years.

Satish Sinha, Associate Director, Toxics Link warned that at the moment 90 percent of e-waste was handled by the informal sector, which is illegal, and no one has this data. “There is an urgent need for a policy that will ensure that the informal sector recycling e-waste is aligned and contributes to the value chain,” he said.

The state has 261 e-waste producers, while there are only 9 e-waste recyclers and 90 dismantlers in the state, shows MPCB data.

Apart from this, the state produced 10 lakh tonne hazardous waste mainly from industries and 4.4 lakh tonne plastic waste. As per the data, there are 7116 industries generating hazardous waste. Of the total waste generated, 63 percent was recycled while 37 percent goes to dumping sites without proper treatment.

MPCB officials claimed that the total figure for waste being scientifically treated has touched 80% in 2021. “We are finding it very difficult to audit waste generation and need a common platform to address this, and this is a key recommendation from MPCB to be included in the State Climate Action Plan,” said Gurav.

Manisha Mhaiskar, Principal Secretary, Maharashtra Environment and Climate Change Department, Govt of Maharashtra, addressing the town hall said that all the recommendations received at the event will be put together as a climate action agenda and submitted before the Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray on June 5, which is World Environment Day.

“The administration from the towns and cities should engage with the community. We have sufficient funds as well as plans and now all we need is will for implementation,” she said.

Some of the key recommendations for waste management include regular monitoring and data collection for waste management, incentivising private participation, capacity building for waste-pickers, drafting effective policies to incentivise, minimise, and take responsibility for the reuse and/or recycling used products.

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