Managing Road-side Wires



As I am working in e-waste management sector, way back home was a misery for me to see the old wires all over the street – especially when I reach the stretch of Lagankhel - Satdobato road. Seeing the tangled wires, I could see how it is affecting the environment and the community. It hit me even more when my father met with bike accident, a small one thankfully, due to the roadside wires. 

The frequent changes of services in electricity, internet, and telecommunication result in generation of the scrap wires dangling from the poles or haphazardly lying on the streets. The services get better, but what about the waste that is produced? The lack of proper management of waste wires have implications we and our service providers generally ignore. These wires have high risks such as accidents faced by pedestrian, visual pollution to the aesthetic beauty of the city, fire hazards, risks of electric shocks, and disturbance to the underground ecosystem. Shopkeeper nearby the area thanked us "Now I don’t have to see people falling off in front of my shop every day". But, if we trace deeper, ultimate management of those wires is quite dreadful. As soon as the wires are changed, the scrap dealers scavenge only the high value wires, e.g. copper wire, with which they get good revenue. But the ones which do not have much value lay around in the street. After some period of time, those low-value wires will be ultimately taken to the landfill, or to outskirts of the city. Informal workers generally burn those wires in order to recover the metal, causing release of toxic gases into the environment. The ashes are dumped into the rivers or the landfill, damaging the quality of land and water again.

The team from BW2V have picked up the wires twice (23rd June and 28th July, 2019) at the Lagankhel - Satdobato road.  While maintaining road safety, we collected more than 450 kg wires from 500 m stretch. And the task was not an easy one. Cutting, rolling, and loading the wires was extremely exhausting even for two strong men. Sorting and storing was another hassle. Considering the amount of resources required and the value it derives, the question of wire stripping would be a last resort. Blue Waste to Value is on a mission to reduce the waste that is sent to landfill. So, sending them to the landfill is also not a good option for us. Thus, as a solution, we are planning for its creative utilization, not just for one-time display but a long term viable use (consider this as an open call! ). 

Well, due to the financial, resource-wise and time constraints, we weren't able to collect all the wires laying around in that stretch. But, through this experiment, we were able to find out that wire management does need good planning- it is not just about removing and dumping. If the e-waste like wire, which doesn't directly release toxic chemicals to the environment, is being managed in this way, what can we possibly expect in terms of toxic e-waste management?

Local Authority has a provision to take action against this kind of irresponsibility from any parties within their area. Solid waste management act 2011, Section 19 (4) and Section 40 (i) clearly states: which attract the consequences to be faced to the any disobeyed parties, and can take action. The concerned parties must manage the wires responsibly and timely, otherwise they can also dedicate agents like Blue Waste to Value for managing them. Local authorities should take the lead to monitor and support to get this done in an environmental friendly manner.

As the way forward, the national e-waste policy and guidelines drafting and execution might take some time. But, in the meantime, we can start with the proper collection, separation, wise use of the valuable materials in an environment friendly. These milestones can help us learn faster and adopt faster. So, let’s stop blaming and start some action!!

(This article is written by Manashree Newa, Project Lead for E-waste at Blue Waste to Value)