Skip to main content

Advertisement

Advertisement

Regulations to be introduced to reduce e-waste here: Masagos

SINGAPORE — In a bid to encourage recycling and reduce electronic waste (e-waste) here, the Government will make it mandatory for producers and importers of electronic products to collect and recycle a certain amount of e-waste from consumers.

Regulations to be introduced to reduce e-waste here: Masagos

Hong Kong has just opened its first government-backed recycling facility for electronic waste as it seeks to lead Asia in tackling a growing global blight that is damaging the environment, threatening human health and lining the pockets of smugglers. Photo: TODAY file picture

SINGAPORE — In a bid to encourage recycling and reduce electronic waste (e-waste) here, the Government will make it mandatory for producers and importers of electronic products to collect and recycle a certain amount of e-waste from consumers.

These companies will have to meet collection targets and be subjected to an incentive or tax system, said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli at a pre-Budget consultation session on Thursday (Feb 1). The e-waste targets will vary according to how much electronic goods they sell here, and they will have to recycle or dispose the waste properly.

More details on the collection targets and when the laws will be implemented will be revealed after the Budget on Feb 19, said Mr Masagos. “It will be a soft target for a start,” he added.

Companies that do not meet the target could be subject to a levy or a fine. But Mr Masagos said: “We don’t see this coming in early in the process… certainly, the experience all over the world shows that as we ratchet up the targets, many manufacturers start to also get the aggregation process right, and I’m sure this will then lead to what we aspire to.”

The move, which is known as Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) approach, is in line with the practice adopted by countries such as South Korea and Sweden, where 52 per cent of e-waste gets recycled. More than 60 countries have also implemented some form of e-waste legislation.

Before this, most of Singapore’s e-waste recycling efforts centred on raising public awareness and encouraging participation in voluntary recycling programmes.

The idea was first mooted about two weeks ago, when the National Environment Agency revealed that only six per cent of an estimated 30,000 tonnes of e-waste thrown out by households is recycled. On average, each Singaporean generates 11kg of e-waste every year, the equivalent of 73 mobile phones.

Ms Janet Neo, head of corporate sustainability at document processing giant Fuji Xerox Asia Pacific, said collection targets need to be clearly laid out for producers, and they may be difficult to achieve given the logistical challenges.

Fuji Xerox, which also produces commercial and home printers, has had an e-waste recycling scheme in place since 1995. Service engineers pick up unwanted or discarded printers from the consumers free-of-charge, and they are then sent to the company’s eco-manufacturing centre to be recycled or remanufactured.

Ms Neo told TODAY: “The moment consumer products go to retailers and consumers, you can’t track them... How much we can do, we also don’t know, so we need some level of baseline to understand what is even realistic to put as a target, because it has never been done before.”

While Apple declined comment on the announcement, the technology firm stated in their Environmental Responsibility Report 2017 that they are encouraging more consumers to recycle their old devices through the Apple Renew programme. Consumers can bring their devices in to any Apple store or ship them to Apple, which will either refurbish the device for resale or recycle its materials.

Aside from regulations, concerns about consumer behaviour and the current recycling infrastructure were also raised at the consultation session, which involved 37 participants from more than 20 organisations.

Ms Ng Wai Sen from non-government group, Journey to Zero Waste Life, said that “waste is about convenience”, and that Singaporeans need to change their mindset that “new means good”.

She suggested that more people repair their electronic devices rather than discard them when they do not work anymore. To reduce consumerism, educators and the Ministry of Education could also work with primary school children to change mindsets from a young age, added Ms Ng.

Participants in the session also pointed out that infrastructure could be improved, such as installing more e-waste recycling bins and improving the security and design of the bins.

Temasek Polytechnic student Ernst Kwok, a member of the school’s Green Interest Group, said that there have been instances of people trying to break into their bins to steal the electronic goods.

“There is also an issue with accessibility. We initially only installed one bin at the engineering school, but it was in a secluded area,” he said.

“Now we have three bins and within half a month or a month, they will be full.”

Read more of the latest in

Advertisement

Popular

Advertisement

Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.

Aa