Nepal lacks e-waste management laws

Burning electronic waste can create health hazards

Kathmandu, November 11

With India slapping a ban on import of electronic waste from foreign countries, lack of law regarding the management of e- waste might create a serious problem for the government of Nepal.

In April 4 2016, the Government of India passed a bill, the Hazardous and Other Wastes, Management and Trans-boundary Movement Rules, banning the import of electronic waste products and other environment waste from other countries.

With this new law, Nepal is sure to face a hard time in the coming days, since this kind of waste cannot be recycled and are too dangerous to be managed at landfill sites. Industrial management of these wastes also seems very challenging in Nepal because establishing such factories normally needs a muti-billion dollar project.

The biggest problem regarding e-waste is that the Government of Nepal does have any laws and set of rules regarding the proper management of hazardous wastes. The government has been dealing with every environment related issues under Environment Protection Act 1997, which does not mention anything about e-waste management.

Senior Divisional Chemist at the Department of Environment, Shankar Prasad Poudyal said the government had not shown any interest in formulating policies regarding e-waste so far. He said, “There aren’t any specific laws about e-waste and the government will soon come out with solution to manage such waste in the country.” Poudyal, however, could not inform about what the government had been doing so far to address the growing concern of e-waste management.

It has been reported that, some amount of electronic waste is still being illegally transported to India, which are eventually burned at an open trash collection centre to retrieve precious materials from it.

Raghavendra Mahato, a young entrepreneur who runs a waste management company said, “The government soon needs to start bilateral dialogues with foreign countries, preferably India because exporting trashes to developed country will be far more expensive.” He also said, “We have approached Japan and Belgium, and we will most likely export trashes to any of these countries after our collection reaches over five tonnes.

According to  Department of Environment in 2017 showed that e-waste collection in the year 2017 might reach 17,730 metric tonnes.

The need for proper e-waste management thus seems quite important in the country. Increasing use of electronic devices like mobile phone, telephone, radio, television, computer, refrigerators, air coolers, and other electronic gadgets is contributing to more e-waste production in the country.

E-waste is considered harmful mainly because of various toxic chemicals found in such waste. The non-recyclable concentrated lead, cadmium and beryllium are found high amount in these waste products. Burning these trashes can create health hazards and leave poisonous chemicals in the environment.