Tuesday 23 October 2018 ,
Tuesday 23 October 2018 ,
Latest News
  • PM prefers unchanged cabinet ahead of election
  • Have no desire to contest polls or to get any state post: Dr Kamal
  • Rohingya repatriation efforts could start early 2019: Malaysian FM
  • Quader rejects Oikyafront’s demand
  • US to continue call on Myanmar for safe return of Rohingyas: Wells
27 October, 2017 00:00 00 AM

Recycling E-Waste

By Sheikh Iraj
Recycling E-Waste

In our daily life, we use different types of electronic devices. From our mobile phones to the remote control of the TV, they are everywhere. Every now and then, new versions of such devices hit the market. When that happens, we tend to go for the latest product. That means we have to ‘retire’ our old devices, which are then relegated to some corner of our storeroom or sold off to scrap dealers. So, every year a huge amount of old electronics, or e-waste, are discarded in garbage dumps, or end up in the hands of people who dismantle them for parts. Various components from used devices are then sold for reuse in different products. The Weekend Independent spoke to some businesses and relevant authorities about e-waste disposal and how it can be turned into a good source of revenue.    

Dilruba Akter, Assistant Director, Climate Change and International Convention, Department of Environment, said: “Technically, we do not have any recycling plants for e-waste in our country at the moment. We have given permission to seven companies, which basically dismantle old electronics and export the parts to countries like Japan and South Korea. Right now, out of the seven companies that got NOC (no-objection certificate) and permission to operate factories, only three or four are active.”      

Jafar Sadek, a hardware engineer, used to have a shop at ECS Computer City (Multiplan Centre) in Dhaka. “When it comes to e-waste, most of the people who are associated with recycling do not have any idea about the harmful side effects. Many also do not know what kind of value the components might have. The maximum damage comes from batteries as they contain different types of metals, like nickel and cadmium, which are very toxic for humans, as well as the environment. LCD monitors, for example, contain mercury that is poisonous. Most of the time, e-wastes are handled by children who do not wear any sort of protective gear,” said Sadek, who is now self-employed.

“That being said, almost all of us use some sort of electronic device, from mobile phones and tabs to personal computers and television, etc. The funny thing is we ourselves do not know much about the concept of e-waste. We do not know what happens to our old device after we throw it in the garbage. Some of us sell used electronic items to scrap dealers. They normally resell those to people who are involved in the recycling business. I know of a few such recycling businesses. But most of the people involved in this kind of recycling do not want to disclose any information, as they consider it a trade secret. But I have seen computer and mobile phone motherboards being melted to extract copper. A couple of years ago, I saw some traders in Old Dhaka exporting plastic scraps to China. I think it is high time the government and businessmen who are involved in this sector get-together and formulate some sort of rules and regulations,” Sadek added.

Meanwhile, the Department of Environment (DoE) has prepared rules on e-waste management and handling, the government body informed The Weekend Independent in an email. “The e-waste rules were sent to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). The ministry forwarded those rules to different ministries, agencies and stakeholders; it has got some feedback from them. DoE is now reviewing and incorporating those comments in the draft e-waste rules. Once those suggestions are incorporated, we are going to organise a stakeholders’ consultation at DoE to review the rules. After the consultation, we expect to send the revised version to MoEF,” said the email, dated September 28. “Then MoEF is expected to organise an inter-ministerial meeting. If endorsed at the meeting, we shall send the rules to the legislative division for vetting. The draft rules are available on the DoE and MoEF websites for public comments. We have also prepared e-waste management guidelines, which are also under active consideration of MoEF.”

The Director General of DoE, in principle, has also endorsed a project under the DoE Research Fund to develop a process of segregation and recovery of valuable metals from e-wastes, the email added. The research will be conducted by the Metallurgy Department of BUET. The seven-month project is expected to be completed within the current financial year.

Abdul Al Mamun, who has a mobile phone shop at Muktijoddha Market in Mirpur 1, told this correspondent: “We usually don’t throw away any parts of mobile phones. We keep them so we can use the parts to repair other phone sets. There are many importers of mobile phone accessories and parts, but they cannot meet the demand for parts. In any mobile phone market, you can see that every servicing shop owner or technicians have some ties to other servicing shops. It is because we often need each other’s help to fix phones that are not working. I have heard that even old mobile batteries that we consider useless can be recycled.”

Azizu Recycling and E-waste Company Ltd is one of the first companies to work with e-waste in our country. At the moment, the company buys e-waste in bulk from other businesses, such as telephone operators, banks, etc.

A B Siddique Salim, general manager (admin) and head of HR of the company, told The Weekend Independent: “We started collecting electronic wastes in 2008. We have to follow several steps while recycling e-waste. Before dismantling the pieces of e-waste that we have bought, several law enforcement agents and representatives of the company that sold us the e-waste have to be present. After getting permission to take apart the used electronic devices, we separate each and every part manually. The bits of iron, copper and aluminum that we extract are sold to local businessmen, who have permission from the Department of Environment to purchase such items. Our company has a joint venture agreement with a Singaporean company named Tes-Amm, we export the remaining parts to them.”

“A mobile phone motherboard, for example, has many components inside. Earlier, we had to export items like that as we didn’t have the machines to extract the valuable parts. Now the good news is we are on the verge of setting up one of the first and largest (e-waste) recycling plants in Bangladesh. Through the latest machines, we will be able to extract all the components. A Chinese company is supplying the machines and they will help us to start the factory. As of this moment, we have 100 employees. We hope to start the recycling plant very soon, and then we will have to hire another 200 people. The workers in our factory (in Narayanganj) where we dismantle e-waste must wear several pieces of security or protective gear. For example, they have to wear boots, gloves, goggles, etc. Every month, we organise a fire drill. We are very much aware of the dangers that one might face while working with e-waste. We have also imported and dismantled three airplanes. The airport authorities allowed us to carry out the work at an empty space inside the airport compound (at Kurmitola). We can recycle any piece of an airplane, except the engines,” Salim added.

Talking about their e-waste management system, M Akram Hossain, assistant general manger of Walton Group, said: “E-waste is a very serious issue and our authorities are aware of this fact. When we replace any of our electronic devices, we send the damaged device to our waste management department. For each device, we have individual storage space. After extracting parts of the device that can be reused, those are collected and sent to our spare parts department. For example, if an integrated circuit of a mobile phone is damaged, it doesn’t mean the whole motherboard is damaged, so we take out the good parts. Devices which are beyond repair are sent to Walton Overall Waste Department, where they are disposed of in an environmentally friendly way. Of course, it takes time to collect all the damaged devices, as normally we do not need to replace our products.”

Photos: azizu.com, file


Today's Question »
Gana Forum chief Dr Kamal Hossain yesterday said that Oikyafront won’t be used as support system to Jamaat or Tarique Rahman or others. Do you agree?
 No Comment
Yes 75.0%
No 25.0%
No Comment 0.0%
Most Viewed
Digital Edition
SunMonTueWedThuFri Sat

Copyright © All right reserved.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Disclaimer & Privacy Policy
About Us
Contact Us

Powered by : Frog Hosting