SINGAPORE: Manufacturers of large household appliances must collect for recycling 60 per cent in weight of the appliances they supply to the market each year, the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) announced on Thursday (Mar 7).
These large appliances include refrigerators, air-conditioners, washing machines, dryers and televisions.
The National Environment Agency (NEA) will also include electric mobility devices like power assisted bicycles and electric scooters in its targets for Singapore’s electrical and electronic waste (e-waste) management system.
This is in anticipation of a need to dispose them and treat their batteries properly. The collection target for these devices is 20 per cent.
The collection target for smaller consumer electronics like lamps, portable batteries and info-communication technology (ICT) equipment – printers, laptops, tablets, mobile phones and routers – is also 20 per cent.
The targets followed an announcement last March that MEWR will implement a mandatory e-waste management system by 2021. All e-waste collected under the system will be channeled to licensed e-waste recyclers.
It was also announced that producers will collect their e-waste through a producer responsibility organisation (PRO), which the NEA will appoint through an open tender. Producers may work together to form a PRO.
The PRO will be penalised if it does not meet these targets, although this will not be enforced in the first three years as a transitional measure. It is not yet clear what the penalties are.
“It is critical that we manage our e-waste properly,” Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor said in her Committee of Supply speech on Thursday.
She said this will help avoid contaminating Singapore’s landfill and water catchments with toxic substances, protect the health of workers who handle these discarded products, and extract valuable materials that can be recycled into new products.
Singapore generates about 60,000 tonnes of e-waste annually – a figure that’s expected to increase with rising affluence and technological advancements.
PRODUCER RESPONSIBILITY ORGANISATION
The PRO, which is responsible for meeting NEA’s targets, must develop and implement a system for collection and recycling, and report the tonnage figures to NEA. It should also develop public education programmes and provide ways for the public to recycle their e-waste.
The PRO will be financed by the producers in proportion to their market share. This means that producers will need to report the tonnage of appliances they supply to the market.
“A single PRO will benefit from economies of scale and lower the overall cost of the system,” MEWR said.
However, producers that supply less than a specified threshold amount to the market will be exempted from financing the PRO. This will help “avoid imposing disproportionately high costs on them”, Dr Khor said.
For instance, producers that supply less than 10 tonnes of ICT equipment, and less than 100 tonnes of large appliances (excluding electric mobility devices) are exempted.
Retailers must also play their part by providing a free one-for-one take-back service for goods that are delivered, and participate in public education programmes.
Large retailers with a sales area of more than 300 square metres will also need to set up in-store collection points for ICT equipment, lamps and batteries, and ensure these are properly treated by licensed e-waste recyclers or the PRO.
Dr Khor said many retailers and partners have already provided such collection points voluntarily, noting that since last June, collection points at Best Denki, Courts, Gain City and Harvey Norman have collected more than 3,200 kg of e-waste across 20 outlets.
As for non-consumer electronics, like solar panels and data servers, their producers will be required to provide a free take-back service of all their end-of-life equipment from businesses upon request.
“To complement this obligation, businesses are also required to properly dispose of e-waste with the producer or any licensed e-waste recycler,” MEWR said.
To support the overall e-waste management system, Dr Khor said NEA will “actively develop” the e-waste industry, such as the skills and capabilities of local recyclers.
“This will create more good job opportunities for Singaporeans, including opportunities in the PRO, supply chain management, and e-waste recycling,” she added.