Interview: E-waste is a huge and growing problem, says Patrick Wiedmann of Reverse Logistics Group

By: | Published: March 19, 2018 3:11 AM

India is currently the fifth largest producer of e-waste in the world.

Patrick Wiedemann, E-waste, Reverse Logistics GroupPatrick Wiedemann

India is currently the fifth largest producer of e-waste in the world. Unfortunately, a mere 1.5% of the total e-waste produced is properly recycled. “India is one of the worst impacted countries as approximately 18 lakh metric tonne (MT) of e-waste is generated every year, which is estimated to go up to 52 lakh metric tonne by 2020,” says Patrick Wiedemann, CEO of Reverse Logistics Group (RLG). Recently, this Munich-headquartered firm launched a ‘Clean to Green’ campaign to promote responsible e-waste recycling in India. On a recent visit to India, Wiedemann spoke to Sudhir Chowdhary about the company’s new initiative and business plans. Excerpts:

What is ‘Clean to Green’ campaign and what is the role of RLG in this?

‘Clean to Green’ campaign is aimed at sensitising consumers on responsible disposal of electronics and safe practices for recycling e-waste by partnering with relevant organisations. We are kick-starting this campaign from New Delhi and will be expanding it to 10 cities. This campaign will cover children in the 12-16 years age group, adults in the 20-60 age group, working professionals and businessmen. We are hosting activities in schools, office clusters, retail outlets and with resident welfare associations (RWA) under this campaign.

RLG India will manage and operate the campaign on behalf of the Producer Responsibe Organisation which provides producers a sustainable, reliable and efficient option to comply with their extended producer obligations as given by the e-waste management rules.

Are you financing the campaign or are other parties involved too? Do you pay money to consumers who return electronic products to you?

Yes, the campaign is financed through RLG and we also have customers and producers with extended producer responsibility (EPR) obligation that provide funds for the campaign. Yes, we have mechanisms to pay our consumers. We shall be using redemption plans like giving vouchers or credit points.

Why has RLG entered India now and what kind of market potential do you see here?

Munich-headquartered Reverse Logistics Group (RLG) is a global fourth-party logistics (4PL) service provider specialising in the design and operation of tailored end-to-end solutions for all aspects of product take-back and returns management.

India is a huge opportunity to build a formal sustainable electronics recycling industry which will help to foster and support the process of formalising the informal sector. Currently, the e-waste generation in India is only 1.1/1.2 kg per capita, which is quite low, Germany generates above 20 kg per capita and China generates 5-7 kg per capita. As per the growing affluence and economic development, India will soon move up to 5 kg per capita which will rapidly increase the generation of e-waste. So, this is the right time to tackle this situation now when the government’s EPR regulation is generating a positive momentum.
What happens to the hazardous waste? How many recyclers are on-board?

Hazardous waste from collected electronics is sent for professional treatment and disposal in an environmentally sound manner. RLG rigorously audits recycling partners to ensure they are fully compliant with environmental and safety norms. We have tied up with four recyclers specialised in electronics and are evaluating more.

How do you make sure that no fraction out of recycling goes into illegal disposal or recovery channels?

Our recyclers are ISO and OHAS certified and we have a stringent process while we on-board a recycler. The programme tracks the mass flow of all materials collected and processed. This allows a thoroughly managed material balance, documented by a dedicated IT mass flow management system. No material will leave the recycling facility in the same state as it has been delivered and resale of delivered electronic products is excluded.

Can you provide certificates of destruction/recycling?

Recyclers provide the Certificate of Destruction as part of our audit process, we audit those certificates as per the nomenclature of CPCB requirements and we walk an extra mile by requesting them to follow our MIS and mass and inventory flow management. We will collect 2000 MT in FY 17-18. For the next year, I am looking at the collection in five digits.

Are there any collection centres or drop points where consumers can drop their products?

We are currently in the process of tying up with collection points and would like to have a minimum two collection points in every state in India.

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