Due to the rapid evolution of technology in the digital era, electronic devices have become essential components of our daily lives. However, as the disposal and utilization of electronic products continue to rise, a significant issue arises: electronic refuse, commonly referred to as e-waste. Bangladesh, equivalent to numerous countries that are developing, encounters important challenges in the efficient management of electronic waste. This article provides an in-depth analysis of the prevailing methods of managing electronic refuse (e-waste) in Bangladesh, focusing specifically on the Hazardous refuse Regulations of 2021.Electronic waste is a growing concern in Bangladesh, which is primarily brought about by the rapid development of technology and widespread use of electronic devices. Annually, the country produces around three million tons of electronic waste (e-waste), a problem that is further compounded by the widespread use of office equipment, mobile phones, and ship-breaking yards (Roy et al., 2022).
Electronic waste incorporates a wide range of discarded devices, including but not limited to mobile phones, computers, televisions, and other electrical appliances. These devices frequently comprise perilous components such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and brominated flame retardants; improper handling of them could result in severe environmental and health hazards. The Department of Environment (DoE) in Bangladesh issued the Hazardous Waste (e-waste) Management Rules in 2021, in accordance with the Environmental Protection Act of 1995. The products governed by these regulations include medical equipment, automatic machines, IT and communication devices, domestic appliances, and monitoring and control equipment. Manufacturers, assemblers, collectors, suppliers and consumers are all required to take safeguards against the dangers posed by electronic refuse. In accordance with the objectives of the EU RoHS Directive, which was implemented by EU member states in 2003 and seeks to restrict the presence of specific hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment, the regulations also impose restrictions on ten hazardous substances. Offenders who violate the primary provisions of these regulations may face a maximum prison sentence of two years, a fine of BDT 2,000,000, or both. Repeat offenders may be subject to a fine of BDT 2,000,000 to BDT 1,000,000, imprisonment for a period of two to ten years, or both.
Although this regulation reflects a positive development, in order to effectively address the negative effects of cyber waste, an overall approach is required in practice. A considerable quantity of electronic waste continues to be discarded improperly and without regulation, ultimately finding its way into landfills. The domain at large is largely governed by informal recycling businesses, and the majority of urban people are not informed about the correct ways of disposing of their electronic refuse. A significant percentage of mobile phones and computers are discarded in litter receptacles, while open dumping in landfills is popular.
E-waste production in Bangladesh is significant annually due to the countrys expanding population and accelerated technological development. Despite this, the nations infrastructure and regulations for addressing this escalating issue are inadequate. In 2021, the government implemented the Hazardous refuse Management Rules to regulate the storage, transportation, disposal, and handling of hazardous refuse, including electronic waste. This action was taken in response to the pressing nature of the matter.
Manufacturers and importers are obligated to ensure the appropriate disposal and recycling of their products at the conclusion of their lifecycle, in accordance with the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), a fundamental provision of the Hazardous Waste Rules. In order to reduce the environmental impact of electronic goods, this regulation intends to provide producers with an incentive to develop eco-friendly designs and implement collection and recycling systems.
In addition, the implementation of recycling facilities and collection centers for electronic waste is required nationwide by the Hazardous Waste Rules. These facilities ensure the secure disposal of hazardous components while performing an essential function in the segregation, disassembly, and recycling of electronic devices in order to retrieve valuable materials.
Notwithstanding this, the implementation of efficient e-waste management practices in Bangladesh continues to be hindered by obstacles. Significant challenges hinder the achievement of sustainable e-waste management, including insufficient consumer awareness regarding the dangers associated with improper e-waste disposal, inadequate infrastructure for collection and recycling, and informal recycling practices occurring in unregulated sectors.
Achieving unity in their initiatives to address these challenges requires the collaboration of various stakeholders, such as environmental organizations, manufacturers, and consumers. An environmental concern regarding the dispersal of electronic waste can be developed effectively through collaborative initiatives that equip recycling workers with the necessary knowledge and skills and abilities.
Additionally, the establishment of formal e-waste recycling facilities and the implementation of efficient collection and recycling initiatives can be facilitated through collaborations between government and private sector involved parties. Supporting Bangladeshs endeavors in this field can be substantially improved through international collaborations and the exchange of knowledge with nations that have implemented advanced e-waste management systems.
Bangladesh needs to initiate immediate and concerted action to address the critical issue of e-waste management. Effective enforcement and implementation are critical in order to control the rising environmental and health risks linked to electronic waste (e-waste), despite the important progress made with the Hazardous Waste Regulations of 2021. Bangladesh has the potential to develop a path towards a more environmentally friendly and sustainable future in the digital age through the adoption of sustainable practices, public education, and cooperative efforts.
The writer is a student, Department of L aw and Human Rights, University of Asia Pacific
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