xGreen: E-waste Management Pt.2 (Govt Policies)

Victor
| May 2020

Extended Producer Responsibility

                In the previous blog entry, Ximple painted a picture where the world is on a cliff’s edge with regards to our management of e-waste, whilst readers like yourself were left on a different cliff-hanger as to what we as consumers can do about it. Fret not, because this week, we are picking up right where we left off.

                Stock Image

                Even as consumerism remains a large part of the world’s economy and culture, many countries are starting to realise the value of proper e-waste management. Not only does proper disposal reduce harm to the environment and people’s health, recycling also helps save preciously limited resources (see E-waste Management Pt. 1). As such, many countries are beginning to enact laws or policies in favour of proper e-waste management. The EU (especially Germany) has been leading this movement since 2003, while half the states in the USA, and India, have also followed suit. Even our neighbours, the Philippines and Indonesia, are drafting new laws to regulate e-waste recycling and disposal. Guiyu, China is often dubbed the world’s e-waste capital (because they used to take in most of the world’s e-waste), with 75% of families there in the recycling business.

                While most of these may seem like industrial and government-level policies, consumers like you and me do play a part in the greater ecosystem as end users. For the success of any e-waste recycling programme, the participation of individual consumers is vital, and we have to educate ourselves about these plans. Therefore, the rest of the blog post will be divided into Singapore’s and Malaysia’s respective upcoming plans (feel free to read both though).

                We end users are the central link, without which, recycling cannot be done

                Before proceeding, certain recurring terminology should first be defined. Like the EU and many other countries that have or are planning to enact e-waste recycling laws, Singapore and Malaysia plans to employ the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) system (SG source, MY source). This means that producers (brands, manufacturers, importers, etc.) who put electronics on the market will be the ones responsible for financing collection and recycling programmes.

                Singapore

                Legislated in 2019, most of the required action are expected to be in placed and complied with by 2021 (tentatively). The following provides an abridged summary of the regulated items as well as the responsibilities of stakeholders summarised.

                Regulated items:

                1) Solar Photovoltaic Panels

                2) Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Equipment

                3) Large Appliances*

                4) Batteries

                5) Lamps

                *Large appliances include common household white goods and mobility devices such as:

                    • Refrigerators

                    • Air-conditioners

                    • Washing Machines

                    • Dryers

                    • Televisions

                    • Personal Mobility Devices

                    • Power Assisted Bicycles

                    • Electric Mobility Scooters

                Amongst the various responsibilities of producers, the one that concerns consumers are that any producer supplying consumer electronics equal to or above 10 tonnes for ICT equipment (phones, computer, etc.) or 100 tonnes for Large Appliances, have to finance the collection and recycling of the relevant electronics. Furthermore, the collection quota to meet (by 2024) is: 20% of the put to market weight for ICT equipment, and 60% of the put to market weight for Large Appliances.

                Retailers responsibilities:

                1. Provide free one-for-one take back of an older product (of the same type) when delivering a new one.

                2. In-store collection of E-waste of the same type as those sold at the store.

                Although the guidelines do not outline any mandatory action by consumers, as mentioned, it is important for everyone of us to play our part. Besides, recycling will be free. Alternatively, if your electronics are still functioning, you may consider repairing or donating them to those in need.

                We should not take recycling lightly, as Singapore’s landfill sites are expected to be completely full within the lifespan of a cat (source) (stock image).

                Malaysia

                Existing regulations for the management of e-waste fall under the scope the Environmental Quality (Scheduled Wastes) Regulations 2005 and governs industrial e-waste only. However, a new set of regulations, titled: Environmental Quality (Household Scheduled Waste) Regulation is currently being drafted and under review of the Attorney General Chambers (AGC). This extends regulations across the board to include household electronics and imposes certain responsibilities on consumers.

                Regulated items:

                1) Refrigerators

                2) Air-conditioners

                3) Washing Machines

                4) Televisions

                5) Mobile Phones

                6) Personal Computers

                Consumers’ responsibilities:

                1. Segregate e-waste from domestic waste

                2. All e-waste must be sent for recycling through formal channels, i.e. collection points or by contacting qualified contractors/collectors.

                For a list of collection points, click: here; for a list of qualified contractors, click: here.

                Moving forward, retailers may also be compelled to take back electronics at the end of their product life cycle. Details for which have yet to be made clear, although it has been outlined that manufacturers and importers will have to pay a recycling fee and be responsible for the products’ “end of life”. Alternatively, Ximple also encourages readers to consider repairing your electronics or donating them if they are still functional.

                Conclusion

                Whilst saving the earth may seem like a monumental task, it is the small things like choosing to recycle or donate our electronics that makes all the difference when we do it together. Every individual and every bit of effort counts, for what are rivers, lakes and seas but a collection of raindrops?

                Together, we can make a difference (stock image).

                References

                Singapore:

                https://www.nea.gov.sg/our-services/waste-management/3r-programmes-and-resources/e-waste-management/extended-producer-responsibility-(epr)-system-for-e-waste-management-system

                https://sso.agc.gov.sg/SL-Supp/S900-2019/Published/20191231?DocDate=20191231#Sc1-

                https://www.nea.gov.sg/docs/default-source/media-files/news-releases-docs/cos-2019/cos-2019-media-factsheet---updates-to-e-waste-management-system.pdf

                Malaysia:

                http://www.doe.gov.my/hhew/

                https://www.doe.gov.my/portalv1/en/info-untuk-industri/maklumat-umum-buangan-terjadual/buangan-elektronik/317

                https://www.straitstimes.com/world/malaysia-gets-tough-over-polluting-e-waste

                https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/malaysias-department-of-environment-gets-tough-on-polluting-e-waste

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