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E-waste management system to be up by 2021
The upcoming e-waste management system will cover about 90 per cent of the e-waste generated by households. TODAY file photo
March 7th, 2018 | 12:23 PM | 355 views
By 2021, consumers will find it easier to recycle their electrical and electronic waste (e-waste) by either dropping them off at collection points located within retail stores or having them picked up via the retailers’ take-back services.
Announcing this during the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources Committee of Supply debate in Parliament on Tuesday (Mar 06), Senior Minister of State Amy Khor said her ministry will implement a mandatory e-waste management system by 2021.
This will ensure that electrical and electronic products are disposed of in an environmentally-friendly way, and that useful materials can be safely recovered.
Producers will be responsible for the collection and proper treatment of e-waste through the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) approach. They will have to fulfil collection targets set by the National Environment Agency (NEA) and ensure that the unwanted electronic equipment they collected are sent for proper recycling and disposal.
This approach is adopted by countries such as Sweden and South Korea.
Dr Khor said collection targets will eventually be set in consultation with the industry. The targets will be reviewed before implementing a penalty framework.
The authorities will study the practices in other countries to design a “cost-effective system”, she added.
“By aggregating e-waste and enabling more efficient collection and processing, there will be greater value captured from e-waste, which is one of the more valuable waste streams. This will help offset the cost of operating the e-waste management system,” said Dr Khor.
Singapore generates about 60,000 tonnes of e-waste every year, but there is no national data on how much of this amount is recycled. About half of this is generated by households and a consumer survey found that only 6 per cent — about 1,800 tonnes — is sent for recycling.
The upcoming e-waste management system will cover about 85 per cent of the total e-waste generated here. These e-waste can be grouped into five categories, namely, information and communications technology equipment such as mobile phones and computers, solar photovoltaic panels, batteries and lamps, as well as large household appliances like refrigerators and washing machines.
Dr Khor was responding to questions on the e-waste situation here, such as updates on plans for a national e-waste management system, raised by Dr Chia Shi-Lu (Tanjong Pagar) and Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon).
Dr Khor said the mandatory e-waste management system will help the economy as well, with the EPR system elsewhere generating new business opportunities and jobs in the e-waste management and recycling industries. In France, for instance, more than 3,000 jobs were created in the sector after the system was implemented in 2005.
“We will integrate and support smaller industry players so they can benefit from our national system, including the ‘karang guni’ men who provide collection services,” she added, referring to the rag-and-bone men.
The consumer survey by NEA had found that more than a third of household e-waste are handed over to deliverymen by consumers collecting their new appliances. This sometimes end up with “informal collectors” like the rag-and-bone men.
Such e-waste regulations were first announced by Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli during a pre-Budget consultation session last month.
For consumers, they will be able to find in-store collection points at all large retailers of covered electrical and electronic equipment once the e-waste management system is in place by 2021. They can also expect retailers to provide free one-for-one take back services during delivery.
Before that, consumers will soon be able drop their e-waste at major retailers like Courts, Harvey Norman and Gain City, which have agreed to provide recycling bins. These retailers already offer take-back services, most at no additional charge, when they deliver new appliances to customers.
Within the e-waste management system, the producers will also have to work with Producer Responsibility Organisations (PROs) to meet their obligations. These PROs — which will be licensed by NEA — can be commercial companies or made up of the producers.
Their role is to develop and implement a system to collect and recycle e-waste, collect and transport e-waste to licensed recyclers, report the volume of e-waste collected and recycled to NEA, and develop public education programmes, among other things.
Under the General Waste Disposal Facility licensing framework introduced last year, the NEA is in the process of licensing all recycling facilities, including the e-waste recycling facilities, by this August.
NEA will also consult stakeholders on recycling standards, which will be included in the licensing conditions by 2021.
E-waste streams contain small amounts of hazardous heavy metals such as mercury and cadmium. When not properly handled, the release of such substances into the environment could pose long-term health and environmental problems, said the NEA.
courtesy of TODAY
by Siau Ming En
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