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IIT Madras to develop an online marketplace called e-Source for buying and selling e-waste

IIT Madras to develop an online marketplace called e-Source for buying and selling e-waste

The Indian Institute of Technology Madras is developing an online platform to tackle e-waste. Called e-Source, it will link stakeholders in the formal and informal economy. The Indo-German Centre for Sustainability (IGCS) is spearheading the initiative, which aims to connect buyers and sellers of used and waste electronic equipment.

The institute’s researchers, who are working on a method to generate a $50 billion economy from e-waste, said the world is expected to double the e-waste it has generated from the current 56.3 million tonnes.

In 2019 and 2020 India generated 38% more e-waste than in the earlier years and only 5% of it has been recycled responsibly, they added.

The initiative aims to make waste electrical electronic equipment (WEEE), a key resource in the evolution of a circular economy, by establishing traceability and recovery of post-consumer e-waste in the market.

IGCS faculty Sudhir Chella Rajan said e-Source would comply with guidelines and use machine learning to trace e-waste and increase opportunities for its repair and re-use. The project would improve the livelihood for youth and women in peri-urban areas by upgrading their skills.

“It would reduce flow of toxic materials in waste streams and broaden the market for affordable, second-hand e-devices,” he said.

The team has created a beta version of the online platform and is looking to collaborate with informal e-waste aggregators, to start the pilot run. The IGCS team has also begun talks with a few partners.

The team would 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 significant data sets are available, the team would deploy machine learning capabilities to ensure easy retrieval and proper indexing of the products to reflect the users’ perspective and the relevant aspects of the processes to promote successful online trading.

Apart from targeted outreach campaigns to bridge the knowledge gap for all users, e-Source will also partner with government agencies and industry brands to address the transition effort.

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