Environment and waste management initiatives
NEA study shows only about 6% of residents place e-waste in e-recycling bins
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 residents place only about 6 per cent of 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.
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.