Special Report

Published: Sep 30, 2023
Updated: Sep 30, 2023

E-Waste Dilemma Tackling E-Waste Via Reverse Logistics, By Vihaan Shah

A modern-day enigma and a ramification of humanity's never-ending advancements, e-waste refers to the scum con- cealed by the outward glow of ever-advancing technology. From washing machines to supercomputers, this associated 'product' has been growing quite staggeringly. E-waste pro- duction was 33.8 million tonnes in 2010, rising to 53.6 million tonnes in 2019. Moreover, only 8% of this waste was docu- mented correctly and recycled.

I founded the E-Zero Organi- zation with the vision of forming a community of like-minded thinkers who wish to contribute towards Mother Earth. At the same time, such an approach could benefit even e-waste producers by provid- ing them with a new revenue stream. What makes us different is that we not only collect corporate and consumer e-waste, we also manage it according to the 'Reverse Logistics' method, serving as a mediator to send the e-waste to its appropriate destination. As the new e-waste management rules were enforced in April last year, businesses now find it necessary to recycle e-waste. Producing 7.1 lakh tonnes of e-waste, it is now crucial for India more than ever to recycle this waste, which is growing by more than 30% every year. As governments worldwide recognize the alarming need to grapple with e- waste effectively, introducing extended producer responsi- bility would likely force businesses to recycle the scrap they produce. But how on earth can industries neutralize this overhead expense? Should they hire a team of sustainability, money-saving wizards?

Value From Waste

While CSR and green product results are seemingly the most apparent benefits of e-waste recycling, these strategies must provide exceptional financial contributions to the busi- ness. Here is where e-waste energy production becomes relevant. E-waste energy production is the process by which electronic waste can be modified into utilizable energy sources. Preceded by procedures such as hydrometallurgy, where valuable components are extracted, energy produc- tion through e-waste could be a promising chance for in- dustry to craft additional revenue models, minimize ex- penses and simultaneously reduce global environmental deterioration. Extracted valuable ma- terials can be reused in modern prod- ucts, and energy production through e-waste can help a business produce significant energy that the company can sell or use. Analogically, recy- cling one million tonnes of e-waste matches the electricity output of 3,657 homes!

Most countries like India, the United States, Australia, Japan and China, which account for a signifi- cant amount of the world's manu- facturing sector, have introduced car- bon initiatives. National govern-ments have mandated certification for carbon emissions. Businesses with extra carbon initiatives credits, like the ones producing e-waste energy, can make arrangements with other corporations to earn themselves another source of revenue. Although a considerable amount of investment is required to set up a personal energy production unit, business leaders are confident enough that the invest- ment is likely to reap huge benefits in the long term. For companies with less turnover, collaboration and strategic alliances with NGOs and other firms could help trigger the solution. Moreover, businesses can appeal to the local governments for grants to set up e-waste energy production units. For example, Veolia, a French management company actively working in waste man- agement services has set up waste energy recovery units, realizing the market opportunity that e-waste pro- vides. Likewise, the same applies to larger companies wishing to collaborate or set up their own energy re- covery units.

Vihaan Shah: the teenaged green warrior!

17-year old Vihaan Shah could be among the youngest eco-warriors in the billion-plus strong population of India. His current passion is the new-age sphere of e-waste management. But first, more on his background. Dad Viral Shah is manag- ing Director and CEO of Shah Metacorp, a publicly listed com- pany engaged in the business of steel. The paternal influence has clearly rubbed off on the lad, who a year ago founded a start- up called E-Zero, of which he is CEO. A bright spark, Vihaan is currently pursuing his IBDP (Inter- national Baccalaureate Diploma Programme), and once he sails through in the next six months, he aims to join a premier over- seas university to prosecute his engineering and MS studies in Mechatronics, which will take around three to four years.

NATURE LOVER

Coming to his environmental passion, Vihaan has, from the tender age of 13, taken an interest in new-age industries like e- waste management - not surprising, as he has been a nature- loving lad from childhood. In his current avatar as founder- cum-CEO of E-Zero, his focus is on creating public awareness, especially among other school children, on e-waste manage- ment, composition and recycling. In fact, he has set up mini-chapters of his start-up in more than 20 Ahmedabad schools, all of whose managements have lauded the young man's eco-initiatives. Vihaan's ambitious two-fold thrust is on e-waste handling and e-waste energy production, both of which can generate substantial revenues for companies willing to go the green way.

IDEAS APLENTY

The 17-year-old, who seems to have found his calling in life so early, is bubbling with enthusiasm and novel ideas for business, society and life in general. At the same time, Vihaan is no idle dreamer - his idealism is tempered with realism and he has kept his feet firmly planted on the ground.

Pros & Cons

Although there are several methods of e-waste energy production, not all of them are suitable for industrial usage, considering their economic and environmental outputs. For instance, the most used incineration process helps reduce waste exponentially in terms of volume. However, proper implementation and supervision are required to ensure no environmental depletion. While e-waste energy production has been experimented with for decades, its energy density is considered below average for renewable sources, making it unprofitable. In addition, if e-waste is not treated appro- priately, it can release toxic fumes from e-waste components such as lead, mercury and cadmium. These are just some of the various challenges in energy production from the in- dustrial perspective.

Meanwhile, pyrolysis, a process that involves heating electronic scrap to high temperatures without oxygen, is emerging as a promising substitute for e-waste energy con- version. For instance, recent enhancements in catalytic py- rolysis are proving valuable in increasing the number of valuable yields and decreasing by-products. More specifi- cally, the efficacy in converting complex molecules and trans- forming them into definite product formations has been optimized. Overall, embracing the multitude of opportunities brought about by e-waste energy production can help a business elevate its brand image and help it benefit finan- cially. If adequately implemented, e-waste energy produc- tion is a win-win scenario, paving the way toward a sustain- able future.

July 15, 2024 - First Issue

Industry Review

VOL XV - 23
July 01-15, 2024

Formerly Fortune India Managing Editor Deven Malkan Assistant Editor A.K. Batha President Bhupendra Shah Circulation Executive Warren Sequeira Art Director Prakash S. Acharekar Graphic Designer Madhukar Thakur Investment Analysis CI Research Bureau Anvicon Research DD Research Bureau Manager (Special Projects) Bhagwan Bhosale Editorial Associates New Delhi Ranjana Arora Bureau Chief Kolkata Anirbahn Chawdhory Gujarat Pranav Brahmbhatt Bureau Cheif Mobile: 098251-49108 Bangalore Jaya Padmanabhan Bureau Chief Chennai S Gururajan Bureau Chief (Tamil Nadu) Ludhiana Ajitkumar Vijh Bhubaneshwar Braja Bandhu Behera

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E-Waste Dilemma Tackling E-Waste Via Reverse Logistics, By Vihaan Shah

A modern-day enigma and a ramification of humanity's never-ending advancements, e-waste refers to the scum con- cealed by the outward glow of ever-advancing technology.

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