Dubai: A 12-year-old Dubai student has collected and recycled hundreds of kilograms of electronic waste this Ramadan.
Riva Tulpule had set herself a challenging task of collecting 500kg of unused electronic goods from people across the country and disposing of them in an ecologically sound manner.
The Indian student posted her video appeal on Facebook, which reached over 60,000 people, her mother told Gulf News. It has since helped them collect hundreds of items, including old phones, outdated laptops, old gadgets, computer parts, home appliances, and much more.
Riva has collected and recycled 612kg in the past few weeks with the help of EnviroServe, a Dubai-based electrical goods recycler, her mother Deepali Tulpule, an HR director, said.
“Riva was inspired to start the collection drive after she came across five unused mobile phones lying in my drawer. She wondered why I hadn’t thrown them away,” she said. “Upon explaining to her that I did not find the time to clear their data or take them to a recycling centre, she began her own research and decided to launch the drive.”
Her campaign, called ‘We Care’ began small, but quickly expanded, said her mother. “It started off as a small drive within our building with a brochure Riva made and distributed herself to raise awareness, but then after the video went viral, she received an overwhelming response from people living in Dubai, Ajman, and Fujairah.”
The young girl’s first three batches have been recycled, while her fourth batch of recycling will be going to Dubai Municipality Waste Management Department, who had reached out to Riva to applaud her for her move and introduce her to their recycling and refurbishment projects.
E-waste is often classified as hazardous waste. Electronics contain toxic substances such as mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium, and beryllium that pose a hazard to both humans and the environment.
“Most of the time, electronic waste ends up in landfills and this can leach poison into the environment,” said Riva, a grade seven student of the Gems Modern Academy. “By collecting this waste and sending it for recycling, it can protect the environment from pollution,” she said.
She pointed out that she wanted people to understand the proper handling of e-waste to preserve the environment.
“It was a huge number of items we received, some of them were very bulky. We stored some in our home, my mother’s office and some were kept in a van until we took them for recycling,” said Riva.
EnviroServe handed her three certificates for each batch she has recycled and also arranged a tour for her around their high-tech recycling facility.
“A lot of people told Riva that the drive pushed them to look for junk in the house and clear it out,” said her mother. “Riva explained to them that EnviroServe had shown her how they shred these electronics in a way that retrieving the data would be impossible.”
Tulpule added that another tip her daughter picked up from them to ensure phone data cannot be retrieved, is by dipping the phones in salt water. “We had to do that for some of the phones.”
The student says her initiative won’t stop by the end of Ramadan. “I’m going to continue collecting till the end of Ramadan and I expect to have recycled around 620kg of e-waste by then. After Ramadan, I plan to continue raising awareness through my page so I can save our planet.”