Nepal lacks e-waste management laws

Kathmandu, August 6

The need for proper e-waste (electronic waste) management has increased in the country, more so in the capital, where almost every household has a set of mobile phone, radio, television, computer, and other electronic devices.

Damaged electronic devices require better handling and management because they have a far worse impact on the environment than other forms of solid waste.

According to a July report of the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology, Nepal imports 250,000 TV sets and 300,000 computers every year which will add to the country’s e-waste within a decade.

Nepal has also imported more short-lived electronic devices from foreign countries that cannot be disposed of easily.

The biggest problem with regard to e-waste management at the moment is the lack of proper laws in the country. According to Environmental Advocate and Vice-president of Environmental Development and Conservational law forum Ganesh Dahal, the word ‘e-waste’ is only mentioned in the law.

“The laws of solid waste management of 1996, 1997, and 2013 have mentioned that batteries used in electronic devices are very harmful for health and environment,” Dahal said.

“Until the subject matter isn’t included in the constitution, proper e-waste management will not be possible,” said Sanu Maya Maharjan, section chief of Environment Administration division, Kathmandu Metropolitan city. “The data of KMC, 2005 also shows high e-waste, but besides throwing these materials into rivers, there is no other solution,” she said.

Electronic devices such as computers contains 40 per cent steel, 20 per cent plastic, 13 per cent copper, 12 per cent batteries, 7 per cent aluminum and 1 per cent lamps. Some of the materials also contain gold, and other valuable metals that are reusable.

“Beside disposing and burning them, they can be reused again,” said Shrestha. “The public play an important part in reducing e-waste. Without public awareness, management of e-waste is not possible,” said Sumitra Amatya, a member of National Planning Commission.