Interview: Cerebra plans India's first zero landfill e-waste management facility

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In this next interview under the Sustainable Technologies Series, Gururaja K. Upadhya, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Cerebra Technologies talks about their plans of setting up an e-waste facility in India and their innovative mobile shredder technology.

Mr. Gururaja K. Upadhya is currently Director – Technical Support of Cerebra Technologies and is responsible for ensuring the technical feasibility of proposals. He is an Intel Certified Integration Specialist and is being consulted on all technical issues concerning Intel Server and Desktop Products, which also include their entire range of Microprocessors. He is also a Microsoft Certified Engineer and Intel Certified System Integration Specialist and is actively involved in implementing various projects on Microsoft platform.

Can you give us a background about Cerebra Technologies?
Cerebra Technologies has been in IT solutions since 1992, and we have primarily been active on the manufacturing of hardware like PCs and laptops. Our main focus is on manufacturing IT hardware and we have our own designs, which have also been used by other companies. This manufacturing experience provides us with a strong background to initiate the e-waste program of reduce, reuse and recycle.

Are there any particular e-waste initiatives you are taking up? Can you tell us more about the e-waste facility that the company is planning to set up?
With regards to e-waste initiatives, we have a strong return and refurbish division, where we refurbish old computers, and either give it on a charitable basis or sell it in the second-hand market. This is actually adopted by a lot of companies as well. We wanted to take this initiative further and also wanted to add the other 2 Rs’ also (i.e. reduce and recycle) as part of our slogan. So we started looking for good partners, as we are relatively new to e-waste management. We have been an IT company, a manufacturing company, but e-waste is a completely different ball game. So we wanted to tie-up with someone with previous knowledge and strong experience in e-waste management.

We have tied up with an e-waste company, Cimelia Resource recovery Pvt. Ltd. in Singapore (www.cimeliaglobal.com/). Cimelia is a globally recognized e-waste management leader, especially in Europe, U.S.A. and Asia-Pacific and has been asked by the Singapore Government to create an e-waste management model facility. They have been at the forefront of a lot of government initiatives and we thought it would be ideal to partner with them because they already had the technology. One of the unique things about their e-waste management is the promise of zero-landfill. Most of the e-waste companies generate some amount of landfill waste. But Cimelia not only claims, but also delivers on the promise of zero-landfill. We were inspired by their cutting edge technology, and now we are in the process of setting up one of India’s largest e-waste facilities in Bangalore.

Where would this e-waste management facility be located?
The Government of Karnataka has allotted land (Nathrapura/Mathurapura, on Old Madras Road) to set up this e-waste facility, and after we have completed the formalities, the construction should start in about a month. By the end of the year the e-waste facility should be ready to cater, not just to India, but the larger regional needs as well.

What is the target of e-waste to recycle?
The plant is capable of handling around 90000 metric tons of e-waste annually. We are optimistic about starting off with about 30000 metric tons.

What end products are produced after the e-waste is recycled?
The basics that are extracted from the e-waste are plastic, aluminium, copper and precious metals like gold, silver, platinum and germanium. Once these are extracted, they go back in the supply chain in their respective industries.

How do you collect the e-wastes – through partnerships with electronic companies or informal waste collection sector?
We are going about it in a couple of ways. We have already been in discussion with the informal sector, and we want them to be an integral part of our e-waste collection process and hope to build some key partnerships. We are also talking to the big companies and trying to form a partnership with them. We are in the talks to work on a profit-sharing basis. Usually, people sell their e-waste on a per Kg basis. But, that is not the case for big companies and vendors. They dispose of computers and laptops etc., which doesn’t figure into the Kg based pricing. Hence, we are looking into a profit-sharing plan.

A very small number of e-waste processing companies are present in India currently. What is the reason for that?
India was not very aware of the problem of e-waste. Now, more and more companies and people in general are taking note of that. This in turn has encouraged more e-waste processing companies to start their operations in India. The numbers of e-waste processing companies has been on a rise since the past one year. A draft bill regarding e-waste management is under consideration as well, which will make recycling of e-waste mandatory.

Data privacy is a big issue when it comes to e-waste management. What measures are you taking to ensure that sensitive data remains secure?
In Bangalore, we have set up a mobile shredder where people can shred their electronics. After the shredding we collect the e-waste and process it. For customers who are concerned about data security, we can bring this shredder to them, where they can see their electronics destroyed right in front of them, hence ensuring privacy of their sensitive data.

This interview has been conducted by Roselin Dey from the editorial team of India Carbon Outlook.

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Author: Roselin Dey