SINGAPORE: Recycling electrical and electronic waste (e-waste) will be more convenient for consumers, with a nationwide e-waste management system set to start on Thursday (Jul 1), said the National Environment Agency (NEA) on Wednesday.
Certain types of e-waste items will be regulated, including information and communications technology (ICT) equipment, large appliances, light bulbs and tubes, as well as batteries. These have been regulated due to their potential environmental impact, waste generation volumes and their widespread use, said NEA.
Members of the public will be able to recycle such items through "multiple collection avenues", such as more than 300 e-waste recycling bins at public locations.
There will also be quarterly collection drives at residential estates and bulky item disposal services provided by town councils for large household appliances. Over-the-counter collection services will also be provided by some retailers, among other collection avenues.
NEA's licensed operator ALBA E-Waste will collect the e-waste from these avenues and channel it to licensed e-waste recyclers. These e-waste recyclers will ensure that all data stored on data-containing devices are permanently erased or destroyed before the device is prepared for reuse or is recycled, added the agency.
"The new system will make it more convenient for consumers to recycle their e-waste, while ensuring e-waste is managed effectively, efficiently and in an environmentally sustainable manner," said NEA.
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The new system comes after NEA's industry consultation since 2015 to "co-develop a regulated e-waste management system for Singapore", said the agency.
The management system is based on the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) approach, where producers are responsible for managing the end-of-life disposal of electrical and electronic products that they supply to the Singapore market.
Producers who supply regulated electronic and electrical products to consumers in quantities that exceed the prescribed supply thresholds are required to join and finance the Producer Responsibility Scheme (PRS).
NEA has licensed ALBA E-Waste Smart Recycling to operate the scheme to perform the collection and proper treatment of regulated e-waste.
"Producers that supply regulated products for industrial and commercial use will collect end-of-life products from their clients at no additional charge, and send the products for proper treatment and recycling," said NEA.
Under the Resource Sustainability Act, retailers that operate outlets with a floor space of 300 sq m or more will set up in-store collection services for the types of consumer electrical and electronic products they sell. These collection services can be in the form of over-the-counter services or e-waste recycling bins.
"These retailers will also offer their customers free take-back services for discarded products of the same type on a one-for-one basis. The discarded products are to be picked up upon delivery of new products, regardless of brand and where the product was purchased," said NEA.
E-waste is one of the "priority waste" streams identified under Singapore’s Zero Waste Masterplan, said the agency. It is estimated that Singapore generates around 60,000 tonnes of e-waste each year, NEA added.
"The e-waste management system ensures that e-waste is properly treated in order to protect the environment and public health, while valuable resources are recovered," said NEA in a media release.
"The system is part of the circular economy approach that Singapore is adopting in our move towards being a zero waste nation."
A soft launch of the e-waste recycling bins, which began on Jun 4, saw a “promising” response, said NEA.
As of Jun 29, more than one tonne of e-waste, comprising mainly printers, mobile phones, light bulbs and personal computers, has been collected at e-waste recycling bins installed at nine selected Dairy Farm Group and Harvey Norman outlets.
NEA said more bins will be put up in publicly accessible areas such as shopping malls, community centres and supermarkets.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Amy Khor urged the public to do their part for the environment.
“Reducing and recycling e-waste is crucial towards making Singapore a zero waste nation and in fact, this will also help us to extend the lifespan of our only landfill, Semakau Landfill,” she said.
“I also hope that more people will do their part to reduce the amount of e-waste generated, and with a new e-waste management system, together with many convenient recycling avenues available, everyone can actively participate in recycling."