ENERGY & OFFSHORE, MANUFACTURING | Staff Reporter, Singapore

E-waste management system to be enforced by 2021

It aims to reduce 60,000 tonnes of e-waste generated annually.

The Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) will implement a mandatory e-waste management system by 2021.

“Singapore generates about 60,000 tonnes of e-waste annually. That is like every person in Singapore throwing away 73 mobile phones every year! 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 materials,” noted Dr. Amy Khor, senior minister of state for the Environment and Water Resources.

In line with this, Dr. Khor said the e-waste management system will initially cover five main product categories including mobile phones and computers, solar panels, batteries, lamps, and certain large household appliances like refrigerators, air-conditioners, washing machines, and dryers.

The e-waste management system will leverage the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) approach wherein a collection target will be set for manufacturers and importers to take back a proportion of the products they put on the market.

“They will be required to work with NEA-licensed Producer Responsibility Organisations (PROs), which will organise the collection, transport and proper treatment of e-waste, and help the manufacturers and importers achieve their targets,” said Dr. Khor. “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.”

Dr. Khor hopes the EPR approach will open new business and job opportunities in Singapore similar to other e-waste management and recycling industries abroad.

“In France, 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 karang guni men who provide collection services,” she said.

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