Business Times

National level e-waste management programme to be launched soon

By Bandula Sirimanna

Sri Lanka is to launch a national level electronic waste (e-waste) management programme for the first time joining both public and private sectors with a view to minimizing the impact of the unsafe disposal of electronic products on public health and the environment, a top official said.

The programme intends to develop an effective collecting mechanism for selected e-items distributed among all outlets of every stakeholder company and to educate and make people aware of technical handling of e-waste and to handover them to collection centres, said Charitha Herath, Chairman of the Central Environmental Authority. Ensuring e-waste free environment is the theme of the programme, he revealed. He added that under this initiative all stakeholders link together under a common logo and a theme for proper e-waste management.

The CEA will enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between stakeholders of the programme enabling them to use the logo and the theme. The programme will be launched next month. It will be funded by the money raised from the Environmental Conservation Levy. However Mr. Herath said the support and attention of the general public is essential to establish an effective e-waste management system in the country.

Therefore the general public should be concerned about their e-item handling practices and practices and think twice before disposing them properly, he said. As pointed out by Mr. Herath, electronic products such as mobile phones, ray tubes of TV and computer monitors contain quantities of toxic metals and persistent organic chemicals including environmentally hazardous lead, cadmium, mercury and brominated and chlorinated flame retardants. About 40,000 to 50,000 washing machines are sold each year in Sri Lanka and the market size of refrigerators in the island is estimated at around 250,000 to 275,000 units a year. Mobile phones tops the list. The size of the mobile phone market is estimated at one to 1.2 million units per annum.

Meanwhile the CEA signed a MOU with a private company to develop a network of waste mobile phone and accessory collection. Collection and exportation to China is the current environmentally friendly system of e-waste management practiced in the country. There are licensed private parties who have been authorized by the Government for e-waste handling and exportation. About 1000 metric ton of e-waste has been disposed under this license. During the period from January to August 2010, a total of 230 MT of e-waste has been directed for proper management according to the requirements of the existing laws. More than 15,000 of mobile phones have been collected at the end of 2009, he said.

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