Speakers for comprehensive policies to address e-waste management

Speakers at a discussion Tuesday demanded comprehensive policies addressing the increasing problem of electronic waste (e-waste) and its management.

They said e-waste which is increasing at the rate of 20 per cent every year in Bangladesh contains highly toxic chemical components contaminating soil, groundwater and air, as well as affect the workers and the community living around it.

They speakers came up with the observations and demands at a capacity building workshop held at CIVIC centre in city.

The event was organised by Voices for interactive Choice and Empowerment (VOICE) with the support of Association for Progressive Communication (APC).

The workshop titled “Efficient Use of Digital Technology and Effective E-Waste Management in Bangladesh” was participated by NGOs, CSOs, journalists, women and youths.

Eminent journalist and writer Saleem Samad,  North South University teacher Dr Aireen Zaman, Convenor of  Reverine People  Sheikh Rokon,  former president of Dhaka Reporters’ Unity Jamal Uddin, Darpan’s Director Bashanti Shaha spoke as resource experts.

The session was moderated by Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, executive director of VOICE while the key note presentation was delivered by Abtab Khan Shawon, programme officer at VOICE.

The presentation explained how rapid economic and technological development has resulted in amplified use of electronic goods and increased e-waste leading towards a new environmental challenge.

Bangladesh generated around 2.8 million metric tons of e-waste every year. Throughout the last two decades, cell-phones alone produced 10,504 metric tons of toxic e-waste. Approximately 50,000 children are informally involved with e-waste collection.

Every year around 296,302 TV sets are scrapped and generate approximately 0.17 million metric tons of e-waste. E-waste generated from ship breaking yards alone accounts for more than 2.5 million metric tons of toxics e-waste each year. It causes death to more than 15 per cent of child workers as a result of e-waste recycling. An additional 83 per cent become exposed to toxics substances.

Bangladesh currently has no specific environmental policy or act or guidelines to directly manage the e-waste problem. Though a draft regulation on ‘E-waste management rules’ was developed and amended in 2011 and 2017 respectively under the Environment Conservation Act, 1995, no progress in rules acceptance and implementation has been visible till date.

Speakers in the workshop demanded an integrated collaboration of policy formulation and intervention, community awareness, effective waste management system, knowledge creation and recycling of e-waste through public private partnership participation.

The participants also highlighted for urgent need to establish e-waste treatment plant and the local e-good producers’ involvement in the process. Moreover, the discussion strongly urged further research, investigation and knowledge intervention in the sector.