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DHL joins e-waste recycling effort

DHL joins e-waste recycling effort

Workers at TES-AMM, a recycling solutions provider, depositing circuit boards removed from electrical appliances onto a conveyor belt before they get crushed into smaller pieces. PHOTO: DON WONG

SINGAPORE — DHL Express has come on board to join local telco StarHub and electronic waste (e-waste) recycler TES-AMM’s recycling programme.

The partnership will more than triple the number of e-waste bin locations from the current 30 to 100 by the end of this year.

Renamed REcycling Nation’s Electronic Waste (RENEW), the programme aims to broaden its reach across the island to enable the public to be better able to safely dispose of their unwanted electronic items and equipment, such as mobile phones, cable modems and laptops, at no cost.

At the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding yesterday, representatives from the three organisations said more needs to be done to raise public awareness of the repercussions of improper e-waste disposal, as toxic substances in such products can lead to serious pollution and health problems.

“I don’t think that, we, as a community, really understand what happens to e-waste,” said Mr Scott Mac Meekin, chief operating officer of TES-AMM. “I have this cellphone that I use all day long, but the minute I deem it to be unusable, it’s thermal nuclear waste — the most toxic thing in the world.”

Speaking at the event, Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said in spite of the harm e-waste causes to the environment, it is actually a viable resource for urban mining.

“If you stop to think about it, it is crazy to mine gold, silver and precious metals and then to dump it, instead of extracting, purifying and reusing it. This is basically a business idea whose time perhaps has not yet come, but it will come eventually.”

Singapore produces about 60,000 tonnes of e-waste annually. The National Environment Agency told TODAY that on average, less than 5 per cent of that is improperly disposed and this is due to other avenues, such as e-waste take-back programmes and collection centres, which assist in recycling the waste.

Previously known as the StarHub E-Waste Recycling Programme, the initiative, which was launched during Earth Hour in 2012 with only five e-waste bins for a start, collected nearly 2,700kg in its first year alone. A subsequent expansion to 30 bin locations saw the collections rise in volume, and over 5,600kg of e-waste have been collected so far this year.

Ms Tanujja Dadlani, a student from Temasek Polytechnic whom TODAY spoke to, was excited about the expansion of the e-waste programme.

Citing the rag-and-bone man as the only avenue for her to recycle electronic products, the 19-year-old makes an effort to recycle whenever she can.

“Loads of people I know collect their electronics for the (rag-and-bone man), because they do not know what to do with it,” said Ms Tanujja. “The fact that there will be at least 100 bins all over the island would make recycling of the electronic (products) much easier as I can now do it myself instead of dumping or selling it.”

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