NTA stresses on regulatory framework for e-waste management

Kathmandu, April 7

Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) has stressed on the need to introduce a regulatory framework to manage electronic waste in the country.

Citing that the current e-waste collection, transportation, treatment and disposal are inadequate and unmanaged, NTA has drafted a consultation paper on the regulatory framework to manage such waste, which highlights the need to formulate a national policy and regulatory framework for e-waste management in the country.

“Despite the use of technology in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector, including in telecommunications, the unplanned disposal of electrical and electronic equipment has led to e-waste generation problem in Nepal,” said Min Prasad Aryal, spokesperson for NTA, adding that a regulatory framework on e-waste management is required as the unplanned e-waste disposal and hazardous contents of these materials pose a threat to the environment and human health.

E-waste includes discarded computers, monitors, televisions, VCRs, stereos, copiers, fax machines, electric lamps, home appliances, cellphones, audio equipment, game consoles and batteries, among various other ICT products. As per the NTA study report, these ICT products if improperly disposed, can leach toxic substances into the soil and groundwater.

Highlighting the increasing e-waste in the country with growing use of technology and ICT products, the study report has urged the government to immediately introduce regulations, guidelines/directives in connection with e-waste management in the country. The study has also encouraged firms to adopt methods of reusing and recycling such e-waste.

Though the government has formed the Environment Protection Act, 1997, the NTA study has shown that the act has not addressed the issue of e-waste management.

As per NTA’s study, e-waste is increasing in Nepal along with the increasing import of electronic products. Moreover, it reveals that electrical imports in Nepal are comparatively of low quality due to the low purchasing power in the country and these instruments get spoilt quite easily and people discard them, thus, contributing to e-waste.

NTA is preparing to write to the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment (MoSTE) through the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) to introduce regulatory framework for e-waste management, according to Aryal.

It is estimated that almost 50 million tonnes of e-waste is produced each year in the world. The United States alone discards 30 million computers every year and 100 million phones are disposed in Europe annually, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Similarly, it is estimated that only 15 to 20 per cent of e-waste is recycled, while the rest of these electronics go directly into landfills and incinerators.