India’s first Producer Responsibility Organisation, Terrapro, encourages ‘responsible recycling’ of e-waste
Companies manufacture new and advanced gadgets every day. How often do you change your mobile phone or upgrade to the latest laptop just because you find it cooler than the older version? Have you ever wondered what happens to your old devices when you finish with them? Though every individual is free to change their laptop, cell phone, television set, or any other electronic item for that matter, tossing it into the garbage bin is not the correct way to dispose it. This will only increase e-waste, which has hidden dangers. Additionally, such habits beg for an effective mechanism to recycle this e-waste.
Terrapro Recycling is a startup launched to address one of the most neglected and unorganised sectors in India. Electronic waste management, or e-waste management, has emerged as one of the most toxic waste streams in the world, and India is the fifth largest producer of such waste in the world. An astonishing 95 percent of this waste is entering the unorganised sector and polluting the environment. Responsible recycling, a zero landfill policy, a stop to child labour, and a pollution-free society are some of the visions which form the core of Terrapro.
Terrapro is India’s first Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO), founded by Hemant Bagai and Maanik Bagai. A PRO is a European concept whereby the producer’s responsibility of managing the waste is transferred to the PRO. A PRO’s aim is to bring in more efficiency, cost-effectiveness and awareness while managing the end-to-end operations associated with waste management. A key feature driving an effective waste management under this arrangement is targeted approach towards waste management.
Both the Bagais, who share the same surnames by sheer coincidence, met in Infosys way back in 2008. Later they went on their own way. Maanik went on to pursue an MBA in Rural Management from IRMA while Hemant joined Sapient to pursue his interests in Financial Consulting. He later did his executive MBA from IIM Lucknow. As destiny would have it, the two met again in 2015 during a short stint at a leading financial and knowledge management organisation. Their cumulative experience of 19 years in sectors like financial inclusion, rural banking, capital markets, and telecom helps them develop the strategic direction of Terrapro.
“We want to ensure that anything that can be recycled should be recycled in a proper way,” they say.
The Terrapro team has gotten immense traction during the first six months of its operations and has found prospects in prominent electrical, electronic, and CFL manufacturers of the country. Terrapro provides services such as Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) consulting, EPR Plan, targeted implementation of the EPR plan, and EPR returns.
EPR stands for Extended Producer Responsibility, and basically means that producers of electronic equipment are responsible for managing the end-of-life of the products manufactured by them. An EPR return for e-waste is just like an IT return for Income Tax. As a producer, you have to file an account of e-waste managed by you or your PRO throughout the previous year so that the government knows that you are fulfilling your obligation towards environmental protection effectively.
The first set of rules governing e-waste management was passed by the Government of India in 2011. These rules, which come under the Environment Protection Act (1986), were amended recently, in March 2016, and have been given greater implementation impetus by the Government. Also, the onus of managing end-of-life electronic products has now been put on the producers of those products under EPR.
Apart from managing the EPR mandate, Terrapro’s e-waste management methodology is fully integrated with the government’s vision of a smart cities and Digital India.
Digital India and Swachh Bharat are very innovative programs being run by the Government of India, and responsible e-waste management is an integral part of these programs. At the heart of the Smart City project is an integrated waste management system. With digital infrastructure as a core utility to every citizen under this programme, the e-waste generated would reach proportions never thought of before.
Maanik is the head of Operations at Terrapro and is looking at building a seamless infrastructure for EPR management at a pan India level. Hemant is working on Business Development as well as financial planning for the company. Their extended team comprises technical executives and operations staff in various Tier-I cities of the country.
Short and long term plans
For the short term, they are looking at further strengthening their operations across India and expanding their services to Tier-II cities as these also figure as major contributors to e-waste. In the long run, they are looking at backward integration to have their own disposal sites in partnership with state waste management corporations and have their own recycling facilities.
Currently based out of New Delhi and operational in Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune, and Mumbai, Terrapro is spreading awareness about electronic waste and its harmful effects through social media, mailers, posters, stakeholder meetings and events.
Consumerism has been adopted by every second person with each one of us hurrying to own gadgets we do not need. In India, individuals and companies have to see the fiscal benefits in upgrading without disposing what they had before. There is a clear dearth of awareness among individuals as well as institutions and organisations, and Terrapro is doing their bit towards improving this. And while they are at it, both Hemant and Maanik have just one thing to say – “Reduce consumption as much as you can and reuse for as long as you can.