6 Questions with NEA: A PRS Update

Victor
| June 2021

Starting 1 July 2021...

Between Biden’s pledge to reduce carbon emissions by 50%, the rise of green bonds and regional efforts here in Southeast Asia to move towards environmental sustainability, it looks like green is the new black.

But let’s be real for a moment: despite being advocates for green practices and sustainable tech, we cannot deny that recycling can be a hassle. We too had difficulty finding e-recycling bins and transporting our appliances there. Not to mention the lack of incentives besides saving the Earth. NEA knows this too, and perhaps that is why the new Producer Responsibility Scheme (PRS) comes with a slew of new solutions that will help with these issues.

For the uninitiated, we previously talked about NEA’s new e-waste recycling scheme to be rolled out this year. It necessitates the recycling of electronics in Singapore and places quotas on the electronic companies (read more here). But end consumers like us do have a role to play, as we are the ones with the power to send our used electronics off to the good place.


The new e-waste recycling bins by ALBA (NEA's assigned operator).
Source: www.nea.gov.sg

As the scheme will commence from July onwards, we decided now would be a good time for an interview with representatives from NEA to find out how the scheme affects us, how recycling can be made easy and how we can benefit from doing so.

Note that while we asked the questions, all answers below have been provided by NEA and have been unchanged by Ximple’s editorial team. 


Q1: From the consumer’s point of view, what can we expect when the Producer Responsibility Scheme comes into force?

The Producer Responsibility Scheme (PRS) will commence from 1 July 2021. The PRS Operator, ALBA Group, will collect regulated e-waste (ICT equipment, large household appliances, lamps and batteries) and send them for proper treatment at licensed e-waste recyclers.

ALBA will provide various collection avenues which include

1) Placement of e-waste recycling receptacles in public areas (e.g. community centres, schools, shopping malls, etc.)
2) Scheduled collection drives held every quarter in residential estates
3) In-store collection service provided by large retailers with floor area of 300 m2 or more.

In addition, ALBA will also offer ad-hoc doorstep collection services for households and non-residential premises for a fee. They will also offer incentives through their mobile app to encourage consumers to recycle their e-waste.

Beyond the disposal of e-waste, they will encourage consumers to repair and reuse their used electronic and electrical products by organising repair workshops and collaborating with partners such as Repair Kopitiam. ALBA will also work with and integrate the informal recycling sector collectors (i.e. karang gunis) into ALBA’s collection activities. In addition, retailers are required to provide 1-for-1 takeback service to consumers upon delivery of a newly purchased regulated product.\


Q2: Could you tell us more about ALBA’s upcoming outreach programmes, and any plans on NEA’s part to increase public awareness

NEA will lead a national-level campaign to educate the general public on the proper handling and recycling of e-waste and the channels available under the e-waste management system. ALBA will also run its education and awareness raising programmes at various levels that aims to achieve the following:

    - Foster strong e-waste recycling habits among consumers and businesses by conducting programmes such as awareness talks and workshops. Programmes will be tailored to suit various age groups, languages, education levels and types of residential premises.

    - Leverage various publicity platforms such as TV, social media, radio, written campaigns etc. to raise awareness on proper e-waste recycling and participation in collection programmes.

    - Educate the young on the importance of recycling e-waste by organising programmes for schools such as interschool competitions and collection drives.

ALBA's app: STEP UP Sustainability allows you to earn rewards for recycling, find recycling bins and arrange for pick up for the heavy items.
Source: www.alba-wh.sg


Q3: Awareness is important but rewards are often more enticing. Are there any plans to help encourage recycling through incentivisation?

ALBA is currently the public waste collector for the Jurong Sector. Through their STEP UP app, members of the public who deposit their recyclables in the blue recycling bins are rewarded with points which can be redeemed for vouchers offered by partners such as Grab, food & beverage, and utility companies. The same app has been introduced to encourage the public to deposit their plastic bottles with ALBA’s reverse vending machines and will be introduced to encourage the public to deposit their e-waste in ALBA’s e-waste bins.

 

Screenshots of the Rewards page.
Source: Step Up Sustainability app.

Q4: Tell us more about ALBA’s Cash for Trash project. What are the plans for its growth?

Cash-for-Trash is an incentive programme by the public waste collectors (PWCs) where the public can pass their recyclables to the PWCs in exchange for cash. This is a requirement under the PWC license. In contrast, ALBA aims to further promote a culture of recycling e-waste by providing incentives through their STEP UP app. Members of the public that recycle their regulated consumer products will receive points which can be redeemed for vouchers offered by partners of the app.


Q5: Some people may not know where to go to recycle electronics. Are there any plans to make recycling more accessible?

NEA is working with ALBA to develop a list of bin locations and e-waste collection drives that the public can easily access to find out where to deposit their e-waste for recycling. The information will be made available to the public closer to 1 July 2021 on NEA’s and ALBA’s websites. NEA is also working with the town councils to leverage their resources to publicise information on the e-waste collection avenues to their residents.

Screenshot map all the Cash-for-Trash Stations and E-Waste Recycling bins in Singapore. Visit the source for the interactive map and more details.
Source: NEA


Q6: Bulky home appliances are often logistically tricky for people to recycle. In your press release, NEA mentioned that ALBA will soon provide ad-hoc doorstep collection services. When can we expect this to roll out?

This service will be rolled out from 1 July 2021 and the following fees will apply. We are also working with the town councils to work out arrangements for the public staying in public residential estates to leverage on the existing bulky waste removal service provided by town councils to dispose of their bulky appliances and to ensure that these bulky e-waste are eventually passed to ALBA. More information will be available on ALBA’s website closer to 1 July 2021.

Collection from residential premises

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Collection from non-residential premises

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Ending note from Ximple

Between cash-for-trash and the collection services, NEA and Alba have addressed the biggest hurdles with convenience and incentive. As for the last hurdle concerning the lack of public awareness, that is something we can all help with. Start a conversation with the people around you, or even, share this article with them. Let them know that as we work towards a greener and better world, we can all play our part. Save the Earth, and earn some rewards along the way, because you deserve it as a protector of our environment! Or if think your pre-loved electronics are still in working condition and can still be of help to the needies, check out a list of organisations here.

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