Why CXOs need to take a long hard look at responsible e-waste recycling

V RANGANATHAN (1)

In a country where only 5% of the e-waste is recycled responsibly, it is tough to measure the success rate of e-waste management projects taken up by any enterprise, says V  Ranganathan, CEO and Founder, Cerebra Integrated Technologies—which runs one of the first e-waste facilities with eco-friendly e-waste disposal methods.

By ET bureau

Could you tell us more about Cerebra Green and the various services it offers?

Cerebra Green is one of the first e-waste facilities to achieve completely eco-friendly e- waste disposal, with zero electronic waste in landfills and zero water pollution. It has received the KSPCB (Karnataka State Pollution Control Board) License at its brand new,       state-of-the-art facility for processing e-Waste, recycling, and management activities. The first phase of the same has been completed on a 12-acre property, acquired through KIADB  at Narasapura in Kolar district.

We offer Data Destruction Services that employs the best commercial components shredder to ensure efficient destruction of data-sensitive devices and components. Without the proper destruction of this data, when any components are disposed in landfills or simply resold, the information is compromised.

We also have Recycling Products and we specialize in an environmentally safe and socially responsible dismantling of electronic waste. All components sent to Cerebra will be 100%   recycled into three main commodities – Metals, Plastic, and Glass. None of the electronics end up in the landfills. Cerebra possess the most technologically advanced E-Waste Shredding System in India, providing customers with the maximum return on commodity.   Products that can be recycled include cellular phones, printers, fax machines, monitors, laptops, stereo systems, and more.

Which are some of the leading names in your clientele in India?

With the E-waste Management Rules, 2016, the Government has made it mandatory for producers of electrical and electronic equipment to register specified targets to collect back e-waste. The target was set at 10% for 2016-17, 20% for 2017-18 and progressively increases to 70% in the seventh year. We have many clients that we service across India. We have successfully handled e-waste recycling for large producers like LG and Samsung and for large scale users like Amazon, Mphasis, Tata Elxsi, Persistent Computers etc., and various government agencies and banks.

With sustainability on top of a CXO’s mind, does e-waste management fit into the sustainability initiatives of an enterprise?

The rate at which technology and our consumption economy is growing, e-waste is just unavoidable. It is estimated that over 50 million metric tons of e-waste was generated globally as we speak. And, with e-waste comes its own set of problems: disposing the waste that is generated, reducing the pollutants that go back into the environment, ensuring no data theft from devices like computers and smartphones, recovery of expensive minerals that can be reused for manufacture of electronic components and many more such problems.

Cerebra has set up one of the largest e-waste facilities in India with the aim to become a leading player in this business. To understand the scale of the business we are in, here is an example: one single recycler in China already produces more Cobalt by recycling E-waste than what the country mines in one year. That simply tells the damage on the environment that one is minimizing by just recycling E-waste.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which is now being postpones, will have seen the most environment-friendly medals of all time, with the entire haul (5000 medals, including Gold, Silver and Bronze) being made from 50,000 tons of recycled E-waste. There is lot of consciousness in this space and it may well be the difference when people must choose between two different brands peddling parity products.

What has been Covid-19’s impact on the concept of reusability and recycling among various sectors?

Cerebra believes in a philosophy called ‘Circularity’. This essentially means not just manufacturing but also buying back products that have not reached end of life, and then refurbish to make it equal to new. This helps to extend the Device Life and enable Cerebra   to make available technology at a fraction of the cost. This makes financial sense for SMBs, banks, call centers, entrepreneurs and schools & colleges who can now afford going digital.

In the time of COVID-19, where work from home and study from home is mandatory, this helps students and businesses to own the technology at a fraction of cost. Cost considerations need not come in the way of giving kids access to technology or in limiting   the growth of businesses. We call this process ‘Digital adoption’ because this really reinvigorates the educational institutions and kids, and also secures their future. Digital adoption for SMBs and entrepreneurs is now well within reach and cost considerations no   longer needs to be a constraint. Besides, a start-up could always use the money saved in making other investments that would otherwise need to be put away for later.

In your view what is the success rate of e-waste management projects taken up by enterprises? Do we have an e-waste management model that can be implemented?

India still has a long way to go before we can proudly say that we have a successful model across the value chain. In a country where only 5% of the e-waste is recycled responsibly, it is tough to measure the success rate of e-waste management projects taken up by any   enterprise. It is important for every enterprise to check the competency of the recycler before disposing the e-waste but I don’t think it’s done for all the enterprises. The successful model of e-waste management starts from the time we pick up the e-waste since we need to have end-to-end control over the entire supply chain.