Interview: Producer Responsibility for Electronic Waste is an important issue, says HCL

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In light of the recent e-waste management rules rolled out, Mr Rothin Bhattacharya - EVP - Marketing, Strategy, Business Development & CEO - HCL Security shares the e-waste

management initiatives of HCL

Rothin joined HCL Infosystems in 2009 as the CEO of HCL Security and now is also responsible for marketing, corporate strategy and business development as Executive Vice President. Rothin has previously served as the COO of a large telecom company and also has vast experience in the M&A domain with a leading consulting firm.

Given that the major responsibility of handling e-waste would fall upon the producer, the electronic companies were given time to put appropriate e-waste collection policies and facilities in place over the past one year. How prepared is your own organization for the implementation of E waste Management and Handling Rules that would become applicable from May 2012?

The e-waste policies and management rules introduced by the government is a welcome move. It is the need of the hour that sustainable development be embedded into the corporate DNA. The issue of growth and sustainability has never been simple. Most of the companies tend to look at sustainability as a cost rather than an investment. Today the Corporate needs to be more transformational and think of new ways to create opportunities for sustainable development. Organizations need to tailor their practices and future strategies to enhance and intensify their spend on technology that is sustainable and green. We are fully prepared for the implementation of the e-waste rules. We have set up collection points across India which now stands at 28. In fact, in the past, HCL Infosystems has taken voluntary green steps even in the absence of any norms.  HCL is the first company in India to launch BEE (Bureau of Energy Efficiency) labeled laptops, in March 2011.  The BEE certification also helps consumers in identifying and buying energy efficient products that offer savings on energy bills without sacrificing performance, features, and comfort. The BEE labeled laptop is 100 % recyclable thereby reducing risks to health and environment.  Again HCL became the first company in India to launch a PVC & BFR Free laptop in January 2010 and later an Antimony & Beryllium Free laptop (in addition to being PVC & BFR Free) also.

Through our pan-India Green Bag campaign, we offer our customers a take back facility to dispose off their equipments.  Such initiatives will encourage people to dispose-off their end-of-life IT equipment, including computers, keyboard, scanner and printers in an eco-friendly manner.

An organization also needs to be future ready as far as green best practices are concerned.  HCL is the first Indian ICT manufacturer to have all its products RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) compliant; whereas government rules require the products to be RoHS complaint only by May 2014.

Can you share your experience and the impact you have noticed as a result of e-waste recycling policies/initiatives/efforts?

For the period April 2011 to March 2012, the company generated approximately 30 tonnes e-waste which was all recycled. We have been voluntarily participating in recycling e-waste since 2009 when no rules and regulations were instituted. HCL has always been an environment conscious company and have been offering its customers a service to recycle their old electronic and electrical equipments by participating in the HCL Greenbag Campaign which includes:

 

  • Recycling as per government rules and regulation
  • Issuance of destruction certificate to customers after recycling of e waste
  • Pan India pick up facility
  • Free of cost disposal of e-Waste
  • Tie ups with Government approved recycling agencies
  • Customer can drop their e waste at any of HCL touch centres for safe disposal


Have you set any fixed targets for the e-waste collection for your organization for the coming years –both for internal e-waste generated and through consumer take back?

All our generated e-waste is recycled. Also we have a collection mechanism as mentioned earlier to collect e-waste from our customers and our efforts are always geared to collect the maximum possible e-waste for recycling.

What are the various ways in which e-waste is collected by your organization? As a part of the e-waste take back process, do you also accept waste from other brands at your collection centers?We have set up various touch points for our customers for their e-waste disposal including through mail, phone, website and collection points. At this stage we only accept e waste for our products only. We send the e waste to external Government authorized recyclers, who have the capabilities to treat and further recycle the e-waste completely.

Do you have any targeted consumer awareness/marketing programs in place to ensure increased take back of e-waste? Are any incentives offered to consumers for recycling?

We run both internal and external communications to create awareness on this issue. We send emailers to our customers and employees and also posters and leaflets are placed at our various touch points highlighting the issue.
We do have relevant information on our website. Also all our product information booklets  include relevant information on the recycling of the product.

The Rules mainly stress on Extended Producer Responsibility, but it does not talk about any specific targets for the companies. Do you think producer responsibility is the solution to the e-waste problem? Your own efforts aside, according to you, is the overall industry is as prepared as it needs to be?

Producer responsibility is important in this issue and as earlier said we have taken the initiative on this issue. There is always the scope to further spread awareness on the issue.

This interview has been conducted by Roselin Dey from the Sustainability Outlook Team.

Image(s) Courtesy

Mosman Council

Author: Roselin Dey