e-waste management in Sri Lanka: Private sector to the rescue (Interview with Mr. Nalin Gunarathne)

Sunday Observer : Sunday, 18 March 2012 by L.S. Ananda WEDAARACHCHI

The haphazard manner of discarding electronic waste which is detrimental to the environment should be stopped. The waste could be given to collecting institutions for recycling, waste management specialist Nalin S. Gunaratna said.

The Sunday Observer interviewed Gunaratna on electronic waste management and environmental hazards.

Q: What does e-waste stand for?

A: People use various electronic items such as hand phones, air conditioners, radios, television sets, refrigerators, CDs, tapes, telephones which have a limited life span. People discard these items in a haphazard manner in landfills and water bodies.

Q: What is its impact on the environment?

A: E-waste found in landfills, wastelands water bodies or when is buried cause severe damage to the environment, most of them are non-degradable and it takes a long time sometimes hundred of years to disintegrate. Some items generate a toxin poisonous liquid which contaminates with virgin soil and water beds. When burnt, heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and mercury in e-waste are released into air and deposited as ashes. Mercury released into the atmosphere can bio-accumulate in the food chain particularly in fish.