The total amount of e-waste generated in Bangladesh more than tripled in last eight years owing to increased access to the electronic and digital equipments.
The country generated around 0.4 million tonnes of e-waste last year, up from 0.13 million tonnes in 2010, according to the figures from the Department of Environment (DoE).
What is even more worrying is that the e-waste would increase by more than 11 times to a staggering 4.62 million tonnes by 2035.
The figures were disclosed at a roundtable on 'E-waste Management' in the capital on Saturday. Telecom Reporters Network of Bangladesh (TRNB) organised the discussion.
Experts noted that the increased use of various digital and electronic equipments is resulting in growing amount of e-waste generation in the country.
Used or recycled computers, laptops, mobile tablets, television sets, bulbs, printers, photocopiers, mobile towers, ACs, freezes, microwave ovens etc. are the main sources of such e-waste.
Experts also pointed out that substances like lead, mercury, cadmium, beryllium and lead oxide generated from the e-waste could cause heart, kidney, lung, skin and nerve-related diseases among the masses.
Against this backdrop, they called for formulating separate set of regulations for e-waste management in the country.
"E-waste management can be a billion dollar business for Bangladesh. But, first of all, we need a comprehensive policy for e-waste management," said Mahtab Uddin Ahmed, Chief Executive Officer of Robi, one of the leading mobile phone operators in the country.
"No matter how much we invest in e-waste management, this would not be fruitful if we do not have a separate policy for it," he added.
The Robi CEO also emphasised on creating customer awareness and incentivising the consumers to properly recycle their electronic devices.
"Currently, technology companies like Robi have very sophisticated process for e-waste management. But the cumbersome bureaucratic process involved with such scheme is quite discouraging," he said.
President of Bangladesh Mobile Phone Importers Association (BMPIA) Ruhul Alam Al Mahbub proposed that recycling booths could be established in various shopping malls across the country to collect worn out electronic devices from the consumers.
He also urged Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) to provide support for the e-waste management schemes from its Social Obligation Fund (SOF).
Experts at the event also called for creating an e-waste related database to ensure better recycling and resource recovery.
Speaking at the meeting, DoE Director General Dr Sultan Ahmed said the DoE has already developed a draft regulation for e-waste management in line with the existing Environment Conservation Act of the country.
Referring to earlier demands coming from the industry insiders, Chairman of BTRC Md. Jahurul Haque said the SOF is supposed to be used for expanding telecom services in the remote areas.
"Using this SOF for any other purpose would require necessary revisions of the relevant rules and regulations," he said.
Telecom and ICT Minister Mustafa Jabbar, in his speech, observed that e-waste management should be developed into an attractive business proposition for greater expansion of such services in the country.