A digital revolution and the ease of access to electronic items have led to a dramatic rise in e-waste. The e-waste production rate has increased by 33% to 72 million tons compared to the previous decade. According to a Bangladesh University of Engineering & Technology published report, the total amount of e-waste in Bangladesh is expected to reach 4,62 million tonnes by 2035. E-waste generators are primarily driven by rapid urbanisation, increasing purchasing power, and manufacturers using planned obsolescence strategies extensively. Due to financial, technological, and political challenges, most developing and under-developed countries cannot manage e-waste in a manner that does not harm the environment. In Bangladesh, landfills are the most common method of waste disposal. However, using proper infrastructure can recycle and reuse e-waste instead of going to landfills. Around 7% of the world’s total E-waste is disposed of in Bangladesh annually.
E-waste Production In Bangladesh
E-waste is generated in Bangladesh from diverse sources, but mobile phones and televisions contribute the most to the total E-waste generation in the country. Mobile phone sets alone produced approximately 10,504 metric tonnes of E Waste in the last few years in Bangladesh. Moreover, E-waste generation every year is around 2.81 million metric tonnes, with the majority of these wastes being subject to crude landfilling or dumped on open water bodies.
E-waste Management In Bangladesh
The system of managing e-waste in Bangladesh is unorganised. Here are multiple processes that are widely adopted, but among them, reuse practices frequently take place in Bangladesh. It is estimated that more than 63.37% of E-waste in Dhaka is resold after the products have been repaired.
The electrical and electronic waste must be recycled in order to be turned into new materials that can be used again. Unfortunately, there is no standard recycling process across the nation. Particularly in Chattogram and Dhaka, only 20% to 35% of all generated e-waste is recycled, and the rest is disposed of haphazardly, which negatively impacts the environment and human health.
- Dumping & Landfilling
The common practice to dispose of computers and mobile phones is throwing them in litter bins. Medical E-waste is mainly disposed of in offices, with the rest going to litter bins and accumulators. The medical waste of large cities is burned in incinerators. Because of their high costs and inadequacies in prevention measures, incineration technologies are not widely used. In Bangladesh, crude open dumping is a widespread practice for landfilling.
E-waste management Challenges
- The increasing volume of electronics is imported illegally into developing countries. Most of the time, these illegally imported electronics are not disposed of properly. When the product reaches the end of its life cycle, it is directly dumped in the dustbin and kept in the corner of the house.
- Ignorance of the toxicity or hazardous nature of e-waste. There is a lack of awareness in government and public circles of the potential hazards. The present management of WEEE in developing countries to human health and the environment. These two were involved in dangerous crude recycling activities.
- There is the absence of infrastructure for the recycling or appropriate management of e-waste following the principles of sustainable consumption/development. In Africa Formal, recycling facilities for e-waste existed only in South Africa in 2005.
- Lack of funds and investment to finance profitable improvements in e-scrap recycling. There is a loss of resources, energy wastages, and environmental pollution as a result of the crude “backyard‟ recycling activities.
- Absence of legislation dealing specifically with e-waste. There is also a near absence or ineffective implementation of existing regulations/legislation relating to the control of the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes and recyclables.
- Absence of mandated or effective voluntary take-back programs (EPR) for end-of-life EEE in developing countries. There is also the unwillingness of consumers and enterprises to hand out their obsolete EEE or pay for WEEE recycling.
- Electronics are made up of multiple complex materials such as glass, various plastics, and ferrous & non-ferrous materials. To process e-waste, recyclers must sort the smaller components electronics are composed of and avoid mixing different materials. There are multiple steps in this process, and each of these stages is resource intensive. Some states, like dismantling, require human labour to complete. Other stages, like the separation of fines, are accomplished using material screening equipment.
Jr Recycling Solution Ltd Strategies to Overcome The Challenges
Jr Recycling Solution Ltd, an e-waste management company in our country, started its journey in 2011. For more than 10 years, Jr Recycling Solution has been working in this sector with the aim of recycling all kinds of e-waste such as home appliances, information technology, telecommunication equipment, consumer electronic devices, and other medium and small-sized electrical and electronic equipment. Jr Recycling Solution, recycle e-waste by maintaining government-imposed rules and regulations. They recover precious metals such as gold, silver, palladium, and to lesser extent platinum, copper, aluminium, nickel, tin, zinc, and iron, ensuring better health and a safe environment.
Jr Recycling Solution has a dedicated 22000 sq ft warehouse located in Savar, where 250 employees work all day long. They train their employees how to segregate and separate e-waste successfully. In the warehouse, they have an export processing zone equipped with the necessary protection for all workers. To ensure the safety of each worker, they are included under the group insurance policy.
As a developing nation, the people of our country are not familiar with the issue of E-waste so far. Open burning practices of E-waste are still common in Bangladesh. As a result, a large amount ends up in landfills and the environment. They are working to educate both rural and urban people. Recently, Jr Recycling signed a memorandum with Edison Industries Limited for their e-waste management. Some of the renowned companies of our country, such as Robi Axiata Limited, Banglalink, and Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), also take services from them. Jr trained employees itemise and recycle their electronic waste by maintaining an environment-friendly process. Each year they collect 10000 mt of e-waste from multiple sources and export approximately 100 M.Tons of e-waste in different countries.
Government assistants play a major role in promoting the use of a service or practice among the public. Recently, they have been able to get assistance from the government as well. The Bangladesh Hi-tech Park Authority has allocated 2.5 acres of land in the Bangabandhu Hi-Tech City to expand JR Recycling Solution’s operation. A data centre, employee training centre, IOT, PCB Manufacturer, and e-waste treatment plant will be established.
As the e-waste generation rate is increasing every year. Along with the Jr Recycling Solution, other private and public entities should come forward to work in this sector to ensure a better future for the nation.