Greenscape Eco Management
Greenscape Eco Management is an Indian electronic waste (e-waste) recycling company that repurposes end-of-life information technology (IT) equipment, such as laptops, desktops and storage devices. The company provides its services to businesses in the telecom, banking and financial services and insurance (BFSI) sector, as well as individual consumers of electronics. The company helps its customers remain compliant with environmental regulations for e-waste disposal while at the same time ensuring high levels of data security. The e-waste collected from these different sources is de-manufactured (disassembling a product into its basic components) into iron-based materials, plastic, glass and rubber. These materials are then re-used in manufacturing other products.
The limitations of urban mining
Reading about all these companies must have left you with one burning question— If urban mining is so good for the environment, why doesn't every company practice it at some level? Well, there are a few reasons for that.
First off, there's the safety concern in disposing of e-waste (which makes up a large chunk of the waste mined for natural resources). If e-waste is not disposed of properly, it can lead to harmful soil changes and sudden gas leakages. These can adversely affect the health of the people who reside close to urban waste disposal centers. In cities where urban waste is disposed of on a mass scale, people are suffering from neurological damage. This, along with the fact that there is a dearth of adequate infrastructure and skills to dispose of e-waste so ethically, makes it impossible to practice urban mining on a larger scale across the world.
Secondly, while a lot of recycling processes have a lesser environmental impact than mining resources from the earth's surface, this is not true all the time. Sometimes, the process of extracting minerals from complex products can come with a high environmental burden due to technical challenges. Additionally, the reason why urban mining isn't more popular is also that the materials reclaimed might have different colors or textures which when repurposed might not result in the most aesthetically pleasing final product.
This doesn't mean urban mining is all bad. In fact, it has become more and more important to repurpose minerals. A study conducted by a researcher from the consulting firm KPMG says that we might run out of natural resources by 2040. This highlights the importance of relying on renewable resources and also repurposing natural resources whenever possible. However, it is important to put significant investment into making e-waste disposal safe and ethically compliant. As technology progresses, hopefully, other challenges such as aesthetic appeal and technical effort required for mining would be addressed as well.