Govt to introduce laws to fix e-waste problem

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The onus will soon be on producers of refrigerators and other such goods to make sure they are properly recycled or disposed of, as the Government puts in place laws to fix Singapore's e-waste problem.

For consumers, this could mean more collection points for small e-waste, and take-back services to make it easier to get rid of their larger electrical and electronic goods.

Incentives or taxes will be used to prod manufacturers and importers to meet specific targets, said Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli yesterday.

"We have to look at how we incentivise and how we put in a levy or some form of fines when producers do not meet their targets," he said on the sidelines of a pre-Budget consultation session on e-waste.

But these will be put in place at a later stage. The targets will also start small and increase over time.

Mr Masagos gave the assurance that the informal sector - such as scrap dealers and rag-and-bone men - could be trained to recycle e-waste properly or be involved in the collection process.

The Republic is taking its cue from countries such as Sweden by taking on the Extended Producer Responsibility approach.

In Sweden, around half of all e-waste gets a second life as ingredients in new products and materials.

In Singapore alone, 60,000 tonnes is produced each year, half of which comes from households. Yet only 6 per cent of household e-waste is sent for recycling, according to a recent survey.

There are about 400 e-waste collection points set up by telco StarHub in places such as schools and malls. But many consumers do not know they exist or do not find them convenient.

There is no national collection system for larger household appliances.

But while legislation will help, participants at the consultation session also called for better physical collection infrastructure.

"Recycling and collection points for e-waste need to be both accessible and visible..." said Deloitte's Ashley Tan.

He was among the 37 participants from more than 20 organisations at the consultation which was attended by Mr Masagos.

Mr Juergen Militz, secretary of the Waste Management and Recycling Association of Singapore, suggested that manufacturers and importers pay a small fee that would go into a recycling fund.