Compulsory e-waste management system to be enforced by 2021

Channel NewsAsia 6 Mar 18;

SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) will implement a mandatory electrical and electronic waste management system by 2021, Senior Minister of State Amy Khor announced on Tuesday (Mar 6).

The system will cover five main categories of products - information and communications technology, like mobile phones and computers; solar panels; batteries; lamps and large household appliances like refrigerators, air-conditioners, washing machines and dryers.

“Together, these products make up close to 90 per cent of e-waste in Singapore,” said Dr Khor.

The system works through an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) approach - used in countries like Sweden and South Korea - where manufacturers and importers are required to take back a proportion of the products they put on the market. Together with Producer Responsibility Organisations (PROs) licensed by the National Environment Agency (NEA), they must organise the collection, transport and proper treatment of e-waste.

Producers of electrical and electronic equipment may work together to form their own PROs.

Dr Khor explained: “For example, PROs will work with large electrical and electronic retailers to set up in-store e-waste collection points. All retailers must also provide free one-for-one take-back service for their products.”

Companies such as Courts, Harvey Norman and Gain City are coming on board, she said.

“We will set collection targets in consultation with the industry and review them before implementing a penalty framework eventually,” added Dr Khor, noting that European Union member states, for instance, are currently required to collect 45 per cent of electronic goods sold on the market, by weight.

NEA will also license e-waste recycling facilities, to ensure high safety and environmental standards during disassembly and processing. E-waste contains small amounts of hazardous heavy metals such as mercury and cadmium.

“The mandatory e-waste system will help both the environment and the economy,” said Dr Khor. “EPR systems have generated new business opportunities and jobs in the e-waste management and recycling industries in other countries. In France, for instance, more than 3,000 e-waste recycling jobs were created since EPR was implemented in 2005.

“We will integrate and support smaller industry players so they can benefit from our national system, including the karang guni men who provide collection services.”

MEWR will also study practices in other countries to design a cost-effective system, and consult relevant stakeholders to work out legislation and implementation details, said Dr Khor.

In the coming months, NEA will also conduct market sounding on the industry’s interest for the formation of PROs and will call for ideas on feasible service models for the EPR framework.

A GROWING PROBLEM

Singapore generates about 60,000 tonnes of e-waste annually - a figure expected to increase with rising affluence and technological advancements.

“That is like every person in Singapore throwing away 73 mobile phones every year,” said Dr Khor.

“E-waste contains heavy metals and hazardous substances that can seriously harm the environment and public health if not properly handled. Some heavy metals can also be extracted from properly recovered e-waste and re-used, which is more sustainable than mining for virgin metals.”

An NEA study uncovered that around 6 per cent of residents place their e-waste in e-recycling bins. The e-waste recycling rate by businesses is estimated to be higher, but “more needs to be done”, said Dr Khor.

NEA also found out that in the hands of scrap traders and rag-and-bone men, e-waste either ends up refurbished for sale if reusable, or dismantled and traded.

Many of these collectors do not have the capability to maximise resource recovery from e-waste and, only recycle components of significant value, said NEA in a media release. In Singapore, e-waste that is not recycled is incinerated, which results in the loss of resources as well as in carbon emissions that contribute to global warming and climate change.

The processing of e-waste by these collectors can also result in workplace hazards and poor environmental practices - including the venting of refrigerants from refrigerators and air-conditioners to the environment, and discarding of potentially hazardous unwanted components with general waste. Heavy metals in the e-waste also contaminate the incineration ash which is landfilled at Semakau Landfill.

A regulated system is therefore needed to ensure that consumers are provided with convenient means to recycle their e-waste, and the e-waste collected is channelled to proper recycling facilities where safety and environmental standards are adhered to.

Source: CNA/jo


E-waste management system to be up by 2021
SIAU MING EN Today Online 7 Mar 18;

SINGAPORE — By 2021, consumers will find it easier to recycle their electrical and electronic waste (e-waste) by either dropping them off at collection points located within retail stores or having them picked up via the retailers’ take-back services.

Announcing this during the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources Committee of Supply debate in Parliament on Tuesday (Mar 06), Senior Minister of State Amy Khor said her ministry will implement a mandatory e-waste management system by 2021.

This will ensure that electrical and electronic products are disposed of in an environmentally-friendly way, and that useful materials can be safely recovered.

Producers will be responsible for the collection and proper treatment of e-waste through the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) approach. They will have to fulfil collection targets set by the National Environment Agency (NEA) and ensure that the unwanted electronic equipment they collected are sent for proper recycling and disposal.

This approach is adopted by countries such as Sweden and South Korea.

Dr Khor said collection targets will eventually be set in consultation with the industry. The targets will be reviewed before implementing a penalty framework.

The authorities will study the practices in other countries to design a “cost-effective system”, she added.

“By aggregating e-waste and enabling more efficient collection and processing, there will be greater value captured from e-waste, which is one of the more valuable waste streams. This will help offset the cost of operating the e-waste management system,” said Dr Khor.

Singapore generates about 60,000 tonnes of e-waste every year, but there is no national data on how much of this amount is recycled. About half of this is generated by households and a consumer survey found that only 6 per cent — about 1,800 tonnes — is sent for recycling.

The upcoming e-waste management system will cover about 85 per cent of the total e-waste generated here. These e-waste can be grouped into five categories, namely, information and communications technology equipment such as mobile phones and computers, solar photovoltaic panels, batteries and lamps, as well as large household appliances like refrigerators and washing machines.

Dr Khor was responding to questions on the e-waste situation here, such as updates on plans for a national e-waste management system, raised by Dr Chia Shi-Lu (Tanjong Pagar) and Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon).

Dr Khor said the mandatory e-waste management system will help the economy as well, with the EPR system elsewhere generating new business opportunities and jobs in the e-waste management and recycling industries. In France, for instance, more than 3,000 jobs were created in the sector after the system was implemented in 2005.

“We will integrate and support smaller industry players so they can benefit from our national system, including the ‘karang guni’ men who provide collection services,” she added, referring to the rag-and-bone men.

The consumer survey by NEA had found that more than a third of household e-waste are handed over to deliverymen by consumers collecting their new appliances. This sometimes end up with “informal collectors” like the rag-and-bone men.

Such e-waste regulations were first announced by Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli during a pre-Budget consultation session last month.

For consumers, they will be able to find in-store collection points at all large retailers of covered electrical and electronic equipment once the e-waste management system is in place by 2021. They can also expect retailers to provide free one-for-one take back services during delivery.

Before that, consumers will soon be able drop their e-waste at major retailers like Courts, Harvey Norman and Gain City, which have agreed to provide recycling bins. These retailers already offer take-back services, most at no additional charge, when they deliver new appliances to customers.

Within the e-waste management system, the producers will also have to work with Producer Responsibility Organisations (PROs) to meet their obligations. These PROs — which will be licensed by NEA — can be commercial companies or made up of the producers.

Their role is to develop and implement a system to collect and recycle e-waste, collect and transport e-waste to licensed recyclers, report the volume of e-waste collected and recycled to NEA, and develop public education programmes, among other things.

Under the General Waste Disposal Facility licensing framework introduced last year, the NEA is in the process of licensing all recycling facilities, including the e-waste recycling facilities, by this August.

NEA will also consult stakeholders on recycling standards, which will be included in the licensing conditions by 2021.

E-waste streams contain small amounts of hazardous heavy metals such as mercury and cadmium. When not properly handled, the release of such substances into the environment could pose long-term health and environmental problems, said the NEA.


Environment and waste management initiatives
NEA study shows only about 6% of residents place e-waste in e-recycling bins
Cheow Sue-ann The New Paper 7 Mar 18;

The amount of e-waste generated here annually is about 60,000 tonnes - akin to every person in Singapore throwing away 73 mobile phones a year, said Dr Amy Khor.

The Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) yesterday said that only about 6 per cent of residents place their e-waste in e-recycling bins, based on an e-waste study by the National Environment Agency (NEA).

To deal with rising e-waste, the Government wants retailers to make it easier for people to recycle products such as mobile phones and computers, batteries, and household appliances like refrigerators and washing machines.

Under the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programme, producers, including manufacturers and importers, will be required to work with NEA-licensed Producer Responsibility Organisations (PROs) on the collection, transport and proper treatment of e-waste.

This will be accompanied by a set of collection targets to be set in consultation with the industry along with a penalty framework.

The targets will ensure each producer reduces a proportionate amount of e-waste based on the amount it puts out.

Companies such as StarHub, Courts, Gain City and Harvey Norman already provide such e-waste collection services.

All retailers must also provide free one-for-one take-back service for their products.

Dr Khor said this will incentivise businesses to "design products that last longer and can be more easily recycled".

StarHub, which has been running Renew, an e-waste recycling programme since 2013, has seen a considerable rise in recycling - from 6.5 tonnes in 2013 to 92.7 tonnes last year.

Its spokesman said StarHub has received many requests to have the Renew bins placed on various sites.

But National University of Singapore Professor Seeram Ramakrishna, estimates that less than 1 per cent of e-waste was recycled in 2016.

He said: "If proper recycling procedures are not put in place, the e-waste will go into landfills and incinerators. "The toxic materials can reach other systems and have long-term negative health effects."

Tackling e-waste is a key area of focus for Singapore's Year of Climate Action, which will see new packaging reduction policies and water conservation programmes.

Packaging waste, including products such as one-time use items like straws and other disposables like plastic bags, makes up about a third of total domestic waste here, and has remained fairly constant over the last few years, said Dr Khor.

The voluntary Singapore Packaging Agreement (SPA), a joint initiative by the Government, industry and NGOs to reduce packaging waste, has cumulatively reduced almost 39,000 tonnes of packaging waste since its inception in 2007.

REPORTING FRAMEWORK

Building on this, MEWR will put in place a mandatory reporting framework for packaging waste management by 2021, when it will mandate that businesses report on the type and amount of packaging they put on the market and their plans for reduction.

The ministry will also be launching a Climate Action SG Grant, which NGOs and grassroots organisations can apply for to defray some of the costs of organising programmes in support of the Year of Climate Action.

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