Erase Your Ewaste
E-waste management is a major problem in Nepal, especially in its rapidly growing capital Kathmandu. The 2011 Solid Waste Management Act is Nepal’s primary regulation and does not even mention e-waste. A lack of policies has meant that informal actors are free to burn wires to extract copper, extract precious metals from electronics and dump the remnants in landfills exposing both workers and the population at large to health hazards. According to the Department of Environment, Nepal discarded 18,000 metric tons of e-waste in 2017 alone. It has also accumulated 25,000 tons of battery waste from inverters and solar panels that are not safely stored and often exposed to natural elements. Most e-waste is either shipped to India by free agents taking advantage of Nepal and India’s open border and India’s lack of current e-waste importing policies. The majority of e-waste however ends up in landfills and is mined by hawkers who use open air burning to extract metals like copper.
Enter Doko Recyclers. We are formally Nepal’s first registered e-waste management company. We have collected approximately 70 tons of e-waste from companies and households between August 2017 and November 2018. The collected waste mainly consisted of TVs, mixed electronic waste and Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) devices used to balance changes in power voltage as well as laptops, cell phones, batteries, refrigerators, air filters and cables. Despite not being ready to manage e-waste, conscientious clients still insisted that they needed a means to dispose of their e-waste. So this waste made its way to Doko’s Material Recovery Facility (MRF). This collection led Doko to begin conducting basic market analysis to understand Nepal’s e-waste composition.
In 2020, we applied for funding to be able to build upon Doko’s e-waste management groundwork. Today, Doko Recyclers has partnered with myclimate, a Swiss non-profit, to tackle the challenges of e-waste management head on with it’s ‘Erase Your E-waste’ Campaign, funded by REPIC. Here are the three main aspects of our campaign:
1. Establish a hazard safe facility to recycle and refurbish e-waste: This E-lab will allow us to process more e-waste, i.e., roughly 300 tons a year from the current 70 tons. We will also be able to expand our e-commerce presence by remarketing refurbished material and setting industry standards for awareness, policy and work safe environments – all of which are of need in Nepal.
2. Create awareness on recycling, repair and reuse for stakeholders and clients and the public at large: We will develop training materials and curricula to include details on e-waste management and provide a learning space for interested community members and students.
3. Doko’s e-commerce presence to allow for an increased culture of repair and reuse and promote a circular economy: Alongside refurbished e-waste inventory, our e-commerce platform will also house other Doko products like theTatwa line. Tatwa is our upcycled artisan line that uses items that cannot be easily recycled in Nepal like coloured glass and repurposed furniture. Our e-commerce platform also includes Doko's Smart Bucket which allows clients to compost smaller amounts at home without odor or attracting pests.
4. Expand Doko’s e-waste services by establishing e-waste collection centers around the city: E-waste is considered the world’s fastest growing waste stream where Asia alone generates a staggering 25 million tonnes of it per year. Our campaign will allow us to handle the growing volume of e-waste in Nepal in a way that is organized and can protect those who work in the waste sector and the general public, not to mention the valuable resources that are present in every e-waste.
We have already begun increasing our capacity to manage e-waste by procuring a universal shredder that can shred large volumes of confidential paper and plastic in a short amount of time. We are also placing special focus on e-waste dismantlement and refurbishing by procuring workbenches for our dismantlement staff and placing our refurbished e-waste items on e-commerce platforms.
At Doko, we believe e-waste is truly an urban mine, and if handled properly, would contribute enormously to Nepal’s economy while protecting ores and the earth that provide the raw materials in e-waste. E-waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the world. It may be hazardous but it contains precious resources - resources we are running out. So the simple act of recycling your e-waste will help you protect the earth and our future.