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Cerebra to set up world class e-waste facility in India, Gururaja K Upadhya, Director-Technical Support, Cerebra Integrated Technologies

29 Nov 2012

With a mission to become a leading IT solutions provider, Cerebra Integrated Technologies is on its way to set up one of India’s largest e-waste facility with a capacity of about 90,000 MT. The company has over 50,000 installations of PC’s and servers across the country. Its Director- Technical Support, Gururaja K Upadhya shares his vision and plans behind setting up this world-class facility in India with Priyanka Singh. He views India as a growing market for e-waste management, as the country’s annual e-waste generation stands at over 4.4 lakh tonnes, growing at 20% every year. 

What kind of opportunity you see in India in e-waste management system? Tell us about your clientele as well?

Over the last decade, the use of electronics has grown substantially, providing the business world with increased capabilities, global networks, and faster results. This shift to e-business has also introduced one of the rising problems in waste management: ensuring the proper disposal and sustainable treatment of outdated electronics. The environmentalists believe that handling e-waste, i.e. recycling/reusing will become a major concern for the developed and developing countries including India. As per IRG report 2008, India generates about 1, 46,180 tons of e-waste every year. This is contributed by both house-holds and corporate houses. The majority of e-waste generation happens in the cities listed below. Mumbai at present tops the list.

Mumbai

11, 017 tonnes

Delhi

9,730 tonnes

Bangalore 

4,648 tonnes

Chennai 

4,132 tonnes

Kolkata

4,025 tonnes

Ahmedabad

3,287 tonnes

Hyderabad

2,833 tonnes

Pune

2,584 tonnes

Surat

1,836 tonnes

Various other reports say that by the end of year 2012, India will generate 2500000 MT Per Annum. E-waste recycling has the potential to generate decent employment, cut greenhouse gas emissions and recover a wide range of valuable metals including silver, gold, palladium, copper and indium. By acting now and planning forward many countries can turn an e-challenge into an e-opportunity.

What are the projects that you are currently working on?

We are also planning to set up the White Goods Recycling, Automobile Catalyst Converter plant and at a later stage, probably in 3-4 years from now, a plastic to fuel plant in India.

Cerebra is setting up one of India’s largest e-waste facility (90,000 MT capacity) and wants to be one of the leading players in this business which has huge potential not only in terms of generating huge revenues and profits for the company and its shareholders but also wants to contribute in a big way to the Green environment issues that have taken off worldwide. Cerebra recognize that it would be a big social responsibility to truly setup a world class e-waste facility.

The industry for these solutions is still very nascent in India. Tell us about the market size, current trends, players in the market and the untapped opportunities here?

E-waste generation is not showing any signs of slowing down. India, at present, churns out about 400,000 tons of e-waste annually of which only 19,000 tonnes is getting recycled, according to MAIT. According to a report by the Center for Science and Environment (CSE), India generates 3,50,000 tons of electronic waste every year and additionally imports another 50,000 tons. New surveys say that by the end of year 2012, India will generate 2.5 Million MT per annum of e-waste with the growth and development of new technology. E-waste is also growing every year which signifies that this e-waste market will not come down; it will increase every year. This is a huge market filled with opportunity.

What are the processes involved in the e-waste management? Can you explain the process and simplify the technology for our readers?

Cerebra will have the highest capacity and most technologically advanced e-waste ‘Recycling & Recovery System’ in India, thus providing our customers with a maximum economic benefit and maximum commodity return. All material sent to Cerebra will be 100 percent recycled into 3 main commodities: metals, plastic and glass. No electronics are placed in landfills.

Mechanical Dry Process Plant

Dry Techniques – Separates Plastics & Metals

  • Fully Automatic with PLC control
  • Capacity – 12 MT per hour
  • Total Capacity – 90,000 MT/Year

Precious Metal Refining

Special Refining Equipment Less Energy consumption Distillation Technique to save about 50percent of refinery chemicals Gold can be refined to 99.999 purity Precious Metals Refining

Most of us are really unaware about electronic wastes? What are the forms of this waste?

E-waste is a popular, informal name for electronic products nearing the end of their “useful life.” Computers, televisions, VCRs, stereos, copiers, and fax machines are common electronic products. Many of these products can be reused, refurbished, or recycled. Unfortunately, electronic discards is one of the fastest growing segments of our nation’s waste stream.

The discarded and end-of-life electronics products ranging from computers, equipment used in Information and Communication Technology (ICT), home appliances, audio and video products and all of their peripherals are popularly known as Electronic waste (E-Waste). In most cases, e-waste comprises of the relatively expensive and essentially durable products used for data processing, telecommunications or entertainment in private households and businesses.

E-waste is not hazardous if it is stocked in safe storage or recycled by scientific methods or transported from one place to the other in parts or in totality in the formal sector. The e-waste can, however, be considered hazardous if recycled by primitive methods. E-waste contains several substances such as heavy metals, plastics, glass etc., which can be potentially toxic and hazardous to the environment and human health, if not handled in an environmentally sound manner. E-waste recycling in the non-formal sector by primitive methods can damage the environment.

The ill effects of e-waste could be on soil through leaching of hazardous contents from landfills; in water due to contamination of rivers, wells and other water sources; in air due to emission of gases and burning of e-waste the recycling process, if not carried out properly, can cause damage to human being through inhalation of gases during recycling, contact of the skin of the workers with hazardous substances and contact during acid treatment used in recovery process

The hazardous and toxic substances found in e-waste include lead (Pb) and cadmium (Cd) in printed circuit boards (PCBs). Lead is primarily found in all electronic products/ assembly, cathode ray tubes (CRT) etc. Cadmium is found in monitor/ CRTs while there may be mercury in switches and flat screen monitors. Mercury is also found in CFL, relays and some other specific products. Besides the cadmium in computer batteries, cadmium is also used for plating metal enclosures/ metal parts in sub assemblies. Polychlorinated biphenyls are found in capacitors and transformers and as brominated flame retardant on printed circuit boards, plastic casings, cable and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) cable sheathing for insulation and PBD/PBDE in plastic parts of Electronics.

How are you being funded, is it the government funding or some aid from foreign companies?

We are expecting some subsidies from the government for this project. Otherwise the funding has come in from PEs and Institutional Investors.

Unlike western countries, India has a secondary market too for IT products. In western world, people might easily discard products after use but in India, there are a lot of buyers for second hand products. How do you fit in such an environment and create value for your service?

Our PC manufacturing and support background has made it easy for us to set up our ‘Repair and Refurbishment’ processes. Part of the Computer e-waste collected goes through repair and refurbishment process. These are then sold through NGOs, IT dealers etc., in Delhi, Tamil Nadu, U.P., Karnataka

What are the side-effects of the technology you use on the environment? How do you make sure that your technology does not have any harmful effect on the environment during the process?

The effluent from the process plant is sent to effluent treatment plant. The Effluent plant mainly consists of three stages,

  1. Neutralization
  2. Clarification
  3. Purification and Recycling

Water Pollution Control:

The effluent generated from the unit will be treated in an effluent treatment plant consisting above mentioned units & confirmed to stipulate standards of the Board and also it will be used for gardening, toilet flushing etc., after treatment to the stipulated standard. The domestic effluent will be discharged to Septic tank & Soak pit. The liquid from scrubber will be treated in the ETP before final disposal.

Air Pollution Control:

The discharge of emission from the premises of the unit will be passed through the stack/chimneys stipulated by the Board. The rate of emissions discharged and the tolerance limits of the constituent forming the emissions in each of the stack/chimney will not exceed the limits laid by the Board. Industry will provide standby Air Pollution Control Equipments on line so that incase of failure of the existing equipments. The samples of the emissions collected and analyzed in the laboratory every day and the results are submitted to the Board.

Solid Waste Disposal:

The industry will dispose of the solid waste generated from the process and from the effluent treatment plant in a scientific manner without causing underground and surface water pollution directly or indirectly. The factory premises will be kept clean.

What is the annual e-waste of India as compared to other countries? Which are the countries that produce largest and least amount of e-waste?

Asia is largest emerging market with fast growing economy in the world. Due to increase in per capita incomes and relatively young population structure, consumption of EEE products is increasing exponentially. Recycling of e-waste in Asia is still not well organized and established except countries like Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore. Some of the major concerns are:

  • Regulations may exist but enforcement is the key for success.
  • Most of the e-waste problem in Asia is compounded by illegal dumping from developed countries
  • Illegal e-waste Imports help for new business opportunities and create demand for second-hand EEE product usage (Reuse) but impact the environment.
Where does India stand in comparison to other countries in terms of e-waste generation?

Population of India stands at: 1,140 million (FY 2008). Growing at an annual growth rate of about 20 percent, India generates over 4.4 lakh tonnes of e-waste annually. It is going to increase up to 800000 MT by the end of 2012 and almost half of all the unused and end-of-life electronic products lie waste in landfills, junk yards and warehouses, the report notes. Computer equipment accounts for almost 68 percent of e-waste material. This is followed by telecommunication (12 percent), electrical (8 percent) and medical equipment (7 percent) with household e-scrap accounting for the rest 5 percent.

In India, Mumbai ranks first in generating e-waste followed by Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Pune, Surat and Nagpur. The 10 states generate 70 percent of the total e-waste. State wise generation of e-waste is as follows: Delhi - 21.2 percent, Mumbai – 24 percent, Kolkata – 8.8 percent, Chennai – 9 percent, Bangalore – 10.1 percent and Hyderabad- 6.2 percent.

(InfralineEnergy thanks Gururaja K Upadhya, Director-Technical Support, Cerebra Integrated Technologies for sharing his valuable insights with our readers. The column 'In-Conversation', is a platform to engage experts from various sectors to share their views on the different transformations happening in the Indian energy sector.)