Singapore recently announced the implementation of a new system to collect electronic and electrical waste, which will include collection drives and door-step pick-ups, and repositories in public areas.
An island city, known for its state of the art Infrastructure, tourist destinations, IT industry, and fascinating ways of waste management. However, did you know Singapore’s e-waste management system has only gained attention in the last decade?
The rising mounds of e-waste in the island country have alarmed regulators and environmentalists alike. According to NEA, Singapore generates up to 60 million tonnes of e-waste each year which is equivalent to 220 Airbus A380 airplanes!
A recent survey showed that a large section of the population and businesses were not aware of how to dispose of e-waste, as a result, it is thrown away, given away to servicemen, partly recycled, and that which is not recycled is burned!
In a rough estimate, only 6% of the generated e-waste is recycled, however many of the recyclers lack the expertise in recycling e-waste, which exposes them to toxic fumes and simultaneously leads to loss of valuable metals.
E-waste contains metals like copper, aluminium and precious metals like gold, which if recovered can be re-used in manufacturing new products. Similar to India’s e-waste recycling system, Singapore is dominated by the informal sector which is fraught with a lack of skill, organization, and channelization of waste.
Appalling as it may sound, Singapore lacks a robust national waste collection system, which is inclusive of the formal and informal sector of waste management. So, what has the government done so far?
In 2015 the NEA rolled out a National voluntary partnership for e-waste recycling, to encourage businesses to voluntarily participate in e-waste recycling.
The next few years, various collaborations and partnerships with organizations and recyclers led to a gradually building system of e-waste management which included upstream innovations and controls – restricting hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment, imposing restrictions on mercury-rich products, etc.
The EPR for waste management announced in 2018, is set to be implemented in July 2021, which makes the producers of electronic and electrical equipment responsible for the collection and disposal of e-waste.
To support businesses, the NEA has announced a partnership with the Alba Group – a global waste management company, to oversee the implementation, collection, and awareness creation among its citizens on e-waste and its disposal.
As they say, “It’s better late than never”, Singapore’s actions on tackling the rising amount of e-waste through collaboration, participation, and innovation which has a holistic approach, will strengthen local recyclers, consumers and most importantly help protect the beautiful island country.