IIT Madras to develop online platform for electronic waste management

IIT Madras is developing an online platform called e-Source to tackle electronic waste by connecting various stakeholders from the formal and informal sectors. This initiative can become a vital resource in enabling reverse logistics supply chains and can help recycle 53.6 million tonnes of e-waste generated globally each year and represents a potentially $ 50 billion market, according to a Press release.

“E-Source” will be an exchange platform that will serve as an online marketplace for waste electrical and electronic equipment and facilitate a formal supply chain between the various stakeholders (buyers and sellers). Researchers at IIT Madras, focused on the ‘circular economy’, are working to fill the gaps in the e-waste sector.

Solution for electronic waste

Electronic waste is also one of the pressing issues in India, the country being the third largest producer in the world. In addition, between 2019 and 2020, Indians generated 38% more electronic waste. What is more concerning, however, is that only five percent of electronic waste is recycled responsibly in the country.

The initiative is led by the Indo-German Center for Sustainability (IGCS). The IGCS team believes the e-waste problem could be solved by connecting different buyers and sellers of used and used electronic equipment and components without compromising their interests.

Professor Sudhir Chella Rajan, Faculty Member, IGCS, said that there is a need for an open source solution i.e. enriched data, leveraging the potential for transparency in the formalized management and management of waste electronic. Electronic waste is typically either completely mined for precious metals and other high-value materials, or thrown into landfills, without exploring potential options for reuse and repurposing. Unscientific recycling methods are harmful to waste managers and the environment.

System deployment

The IGCS team has already completed an initial market research and mapping of the various stakeholders in this e-waste ecosystem through direct field / telephone conversations and consultations combined with secondary research. The beta of the online platform is ready, and the team is now looking for more ecosystem collaborators, especially informal e-waste aggregators, to launch the pilot. He has also started talks with a few partners, the statement said.

The IGCS team will deploy a detection system that uses a combination of image processing and natural language processing techniques to extract product information and upload it to the database. Once large datasets are available, this would advance towards the deployment of machine learning capabilities to ensure easy retrieval and proper indexing of products to meticulously reflect user perspective and relevant aspects of processes. . Such precision is crucial in promoting a successful online business.

This initiative requires forging collaborations and influencing informal market stakeholders who are the main users / buyers of used electronics and sellers of electronic spare parts, ICT components and electronic equipment. This would ensure that sufficient volume is generated for repair, reuse and recycling for the bigger players to operate, while also helping stand-alone repairers acquire independent electronic components from centralized gray markets, the statement said.