Waste has always been a problem as people have to find ways and means of disposing them. E-waste or electronic waste is the latest addition to this debris and disposing it in a proper manner is a must. Otherwise they will get mixed with water, contaminating it or the entire environment.
Managing Director, Green Link Lanka, Nalin Gunaratne is an exporter of catlatic converters to Malaysia who is interested in the subject of e-waste for a long time. Five years ago he started collecting them when he realised its potential. While overseas he had also witnessed the recycling process when its true potential dawned on him.
At present plans are afoot to export e-waste to two countries, said Gunaratne. While exporting e-waste I got to know that Central Environmental Authority (CEA) is the competent authority under the Basle Convention, relating to e-waste. So, I got the licence from the CEA and began exporting, said Gunaratne.
In the beginning he got e-waste from Tigo which he exported to China and Malaysia where recycling was done. They don't quote the price until they have a look at the e-waste. Most people collect the e-waste and separate the plastic, copper, aluminium and iron while the rest is dumped at landfills which causes in sicknesses due to contamination of water. He said that though some waste could be extracted, we don't have the machinery and resources for a total extraction. Therefore, when it is dumped and parts of it get mixed with the landfill causing diseases and environmental pollution.
For example, a drop of mercury when mixed with earth remains for 60 odd years. Green Link Lanka has signed an MoU with the CEA, Geo Cycle and 14 other companies while the e-waste of most of the telephone companies, Metropolitan, John Keells , Singer, Abans, some BOI companies and the ETAL group to collect their e-waste which is then exported.
Speaking of the future of the e-waste industry, Gunaratne said that in time to come countries such as China and Malaysia will ban import of e-waste. By that time we should have a unit to recycle the e-waste.
We have done two feasibility studies which shows that it is not viable due to the cost, not sufficient items to recycle as well as the inability to extract all the items.
Speaking of the future, he said that they will export as much as they can and thus earn foreign exchange.
He said that though there is a lot of e-waste in the country most of gets buried in the landfills or in the garbage piles.
Therefore, the next time you wish to discard a battery cell think twice before you do it, he said.