E-Safai”, a Joint Initiative by RLG Systems and GIZ India, Seeks to Cultivate Mass Awareness Towards Safe and Sustainable E-waste Management

Virtual workshop on Hazardous Impacts of E-waste on Environment & Human Health

New Delhi, May 28: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and RLG Systems India Private Limited have joined forces for the implementation of a three-year-long Public-Private Partnership Project titled “Setting Up Innovative Value Chain for e-Waste Management” also known as “E-Safai” initiative. The project is funded through the develoPPP programme that GIZ implements on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

The primary objective of this landmark programme is to cultivate awareness regarding the safe and sustainable handling of e-waste among various stakeholders, including Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs), schools, retailers, and bulk consumers. E-Safai intends to emphasise the refurbishment, dismantling and recycling of e-waste in an environmentally sound manner.

Improper handling and disposal of e-waste severely impact human health and the environment since they contain several hazardous constituents such as cadmium, lead, chromium, mercury and precious metals like gold, silver and palladium. In developing countries like India, e-waste is majorly handled by the informal sector. In such informal settings, the valuable components of electronic waste equipment are extracted through manual dismantling and often recycled using primitive technologies such as burning, heating or basic chemical reactions. Primitive recycling mainly includes the open burning of circuit boards wherein circuit boards are cooked over open flames, cables and plastics are burnt in open pits to recover copper, and acid leaching is undertaken to extract gold and palladium (Cesaro et al., 2019).

In the above context, a Virtual Workshop was organised to highlight the health hazards and environmental impacts of improper handling of e-waste and possible solutions for more environmentally sound and sustainable e-waste management on 25th May 2022. The workshop’s objective was to provide a platform for the stakeholders to share their experiences on proper management and channelisation of E-waste to mitigate Hazardous Impacts of End-of-Life Products on the Environment and Human Health. Through this workshop, we intended to find possible solutions to tackle the problems faced by the stakeholders due to improper handling and disposal of E-waste.

Talking about the workshop, Ms Radhika Kalia, Managing Director, RLG Systems India, stated: The most significant health risks of informal e-waste recycling are exposure to several metals and chemicals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, polybrominated flame retardants, barium and lithium. The negative health effects of these toxins on humans include brain, heart, liver, kidney and skeletal system damage. We at RLG work to create awareness and minimise the impact of e-waste by formalising the informal sector to curb the leaching of hazardous chemicals into the environment, which is further hampering human health.

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