Lying somewhere among the various issues plaguing the North-East region in India, a new one has reared up its ugly head – “e-waste”.

A report released by Toxic Link associate, Satish Sinha confirms that Assam produces approximately 14,000 tons of e-waste. Meghalaya’s capital city Shillong generates roughly 446 tons of e-waste annually. He expressed grave concern and added that while these are just approximate figures, they indicate that e-waste is increasing at an alarming rate in the North East.

In a bid to cope up with the issue and formulate a future roadmap for effective electronic waste management in the region, Pollution Control Boards from six states in NE India have come together to handle e-waste in an eco-friendly manner. The officials of the six SPCBs (State Pollution Control Boards) stated in a workshop that a large section of electric and electronic equipment – televisions, mobiles, cables and computers are collected and mixed with municipal waste in informal scrap yards. The informal sector often just burn these waste in the open which, in turn, produces hazardous gases and poses a serious threat to the environment and human health. Over 95% of the e-waste in India is being handled by the informal sector that uses hazardous and crude techniques for processing e-waste to extract valuable metals, such as gold and copper.

To address the problem of e-waste, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest passed the E-waste Management and Handling Rules in 2011, which came into effect on May 1, 2012. It has been one year since the rules were implemented, however, e-waste is still the fastest growing municipal waste stream in the region, says Satish Sinha. He also stated that apart from imports, lack of awareness is one of the major impediments to proper handling of e-waste in the North East. It seems like it will take some more time for these laws and regulations to be effective enough and generate results.

Attero, a NASA recognized technology innovator and globally the only e-waste recycler registered with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to award carbon credits for recycling e-waste, has been working on developing solutions to tackle the problem of e-waste. The company has developed unique disruptive technology to effectively recycle all kinds of e-waste and extract precious metals in an environmentally responsible manner. Developed in house at Attero’s state of the art R&D facility, this technology offers a feasible solution for eco-friendly e-waste management by setting up multiple non hazardous, low capex, low capacity e-waste processing plants.