Arjun Kapur is working to curb e-waste in Dubai by recycling items Image Credit: Supplied

With teenage activist Greta Thunberg’s emotional speech during the UN’s Climate Action Summit that took place last week, we all know waste is an enormous issue our world is facing right now. More importantly, narrowing down and categorising waste to combat it one step at a time is crucial.

Why is e-waste dangerous to the environment?

Electronic waste is a major problem that is overlooked and holds serious drawbacks to the environment. When this type of waste is not disposed properly, it ends up in landfills or being dumped in seas, and they begin to release harmful chemicals that enter the air, damaging the atmosphere. Plus, when in water, these chemicals also harm land and sea animals.

How to help?

Raw, unrenewable materials from these wastes can be recycled, rather than being thrown away and wasted. Also, recycling e-waste can reduce toxic materials from being exposed to incineration, and hence, air and water pollution. Hazardous waste can finally be managed smarter and be more suitable for the environment.

The idea of beginning my initiative of e-waste recycling came from seeing how much of an impact it had created within the community where I live. During this summer, I was walking around my neighbourhood one day and found someone’s fridge and a laptop outside next to their trash bin. This was not just coincidental, I kept finding that people leave their used electronic items in their bins or outside their house for the garbageman to take away.

This felt odd to me, because I always thought that you were not allowed to dispose electronic items in trash bins, I mean it’s literally labelled on all phone covers with a cross on a bin.

I then started researching for ways I could recycle such e-waste. It was then when I stumbled upon Enviroserve, the largest e-waste recycling company in the UAE. I sent them an email around August and they invited me to their office at Dubai Industrial City. While I was there, I found out how even the most intricate parts of an electronic device are recycled and reused to make new devices.

“Arjun approached us around August this year and wanted to know how we recycle the e-waste. Seeing his inquisitive nature and passion about the environment, we invited him to our plant and explained to him the processes. He was very happy to see how every bit of the e-waste was separated and recycled at our plant. Arjun’s generation is aware of the environment and wants to minimise the damage to the environment keeping in mind the technological advancement that we are going through and would continue to do so,” explained Siji Anto, key account manager at Enviroserve.

E-waste recycling campaign

I contacted my neighbours and friends for their e-waste. Sometimes I went door to door to collect the e-waste. I had also started collecting these items from other neighboUring communities and people interested in giving away their e-waste, from all parts of Dubai. My initiative was advertised through various Facebook communities to call out these people, in which my mother played an immense role in contacting these people and organising the collection process.

I have currently recycled almost 500 kgs worth of recycled electronics. These ranged from cookers, CPUs, printers, laptops, cables, hard drives, televisions and used phones.

Taking it to the next step

My journey is not over yet. I shall not only be collecting within my community, but am starting this initiative within my school. I have begun collaborating with my school, The Winchester School Jebel Ali, in aiming to collecting e-waste from all students and faculty. The initiative will involve volunteers and merits being awarded to students that recycle the most electronics.

“Arjun has always been very conscious of the environment. He was very upset to see people throwing their e-waste outside of their house. He would always ask me how the e-waste would be treated, and I won’t have the answer. This summer break we were not traveling extensively and that gave him time to search on the e-waste recycling process and he was happy to know that there is a company which does the right kind of processing of the e-waste without affecting the environment,” said Kamaljit Kapur, my mother.

In addition, constant support from peers have brought this initiative to its success. “Arjun is very sensitive, young and an enthusiastic boy. As a corporate and a parent, I am proud to see his enthusiasm and happy to note that the young generation is realising the value of safe environment,” said Amit Mathur, managing director of Technical Resources LLC.

Even members of my community had their word. “I have to congratulate Arjun Kapur on his initiative taken, he has pledged to collect e-waste and dispose in an environment friendly manner, which otherwise would end up in a landfill. He collected all the electronic waste in the community, which is a great help to the residents too,” Parinita Prasad, Dubai resident.

Message to UAE residents

My message to all UAE residents is to not just throw away their used household appliances and electronic devices, but to recycle them. These items end up in methods of disposal that are harmful to the environment and contribute to pollution of all sorts.

— The reader is a student based in Dubai.

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