This will ensure e-waste is managed effectively and efficiently; consumers will also benefit from greater convenience in collection of e-waste
Singapore, 6 March 2018 – As announced at the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR)’s Committee of Supply Debate, the National Environment Agency (NEA) will introduce regulatory measures to ensure that electrical and electronic waste (e-waste) is managed effectively and efficiently in Singapore. Building on existing voluntary e-waste recycling initiatives, the e-waste management system will be established by 2021. This will entail the assignment of responsibilities to key stakeholders in the e-waste value chain through Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).
2 The system will cover end-of-life information and communications technology (ICT) equipment, solar photovoltaic panels, batteries and lamps, and certain household appliances. The full list of covered electrical and electronic equipment is in Table 1 of Annex A.
3 Under the EPR framework, producers of covered electrical and electronic equipment will be required to take on responsibility for the collection and proper treatment of e-waste. These producers are companies that manufacture or import covered electrical and electronic equipment for supply on the local market. Producers will have to fulfil collection targets set by NEA and ensure that the end-of-life electronic equipment collected are channelled for proper recycling and disposal. NEA will review the targets periodically before introducing a penalty framework. In the European Union (EU) for example, member states were initially required to collect 4 kg per capita of e-waste. The EU Commission has since revised the obligations, and member states are currently required to collect 45 per cent (by weight) of electronic goods sold on the market.
Licensing of Producer Responsibility Organisations
4 The producers of covered electrical and electronic equipment will be required to engage Producer Responsibility Organisations (PROs) to meet their obligations for the collection and proper treatment of e-waste. NEA will license these PROs, which will see to the collection, transportation, proper treatment, and reporting of e-waste collected on behalf of producers.
5 Producers of covered electrical and electronic equipment may work together to form their own PRO(s). Where necessary, NEA will appoint one or more PROs to support the roll-out of the system. Please refer to Annex B for a summary of main responsibilities for e-waste stakeholders.
Licensing of E-waste Recycling Facilities
6 NEA will also license e-waste recycling facilities. This will ensure that high safety and environmental standards are met during the disassembly and processing of all e-waste collected. E-waste contains small amounts of hazardous heavy metals such as mercury and cadmium. When improperly handled, the release of such substances into the environment may pose long-term health and environmental problems.
Greater Convenience for Consumers
7 Consumers can expect greater convenience when recycling their e-waste with the introduction of the e-waste management system. For example, in-store collection points will be available at all large retailers of covered electrical and electronic equipment, and retailers of covered electrical and electronic equipment will be required to provide free one-for-one take-back service during delivery. Please refer to Annex C for an infographic on the e-waste management system by 2021.
8 NEA has been working with major retailers of electrical and electronic equipment to voluntarily provide e-waste recycling bins at their outlets to bring immediate convenience to consumers as well as raise public awareness on the need to segregate and recycle e-waste. Companies such as Courts, Harvey Norman and Gain City have already agreed to come on board, and we hope for further participation by electronic equipment retailers.
9 NEA will continue to consult relevant stakeholders to define the implementation details of the regulated e-waste management system. 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 to manage producers’ responsibilities under the EPR framework.
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For more information, please contact us at 1800-CALL NEA (1800-2255 632) or submit your enquiries electronically via the Online Feedback Form or myENV mobile application.
Implementing an E-waste Management System in Singapore
Singapore generates about 60,000 tonnes of electrical and electronic waste (e-waste) every year. This is expected to increase with growing affluence and technological advancements. E-waste contains valuable and scarce materials, but also small amounts of hazardous substances that can cause environmental and public health issues if not handled properly.
2 NEA’s e-waste study, conducted from April 2016 to October 2017, found that e-waste that is discarded or carted away by deliverymen could end up with informal collectors such as scrap traders and rag-and-bone men. These collectors refurbish reusable electronic goods for sale, dismantle the rest and trade the parts extracted with recyclers. Many of these collectors do not have the capability to maximise resource recovery from e-waste and, only recycle components of significant value. 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.
3 In addition, the processing of e-waste by these collectors can result in workplace hazards and poor environmental practices. These include 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 i) consumers are provided with convenient means to recycle their e-waste, and ii) the e-waste collected is channelled to proper recycling facilities where safety and environmental standards are adhered to.
4 NEA has been working to raise public awareness of the need to recycle e-waste and to encourage participation in voluntary programmes where proper recycling and treatment processes are adopted. The most extensive programme is StarHub’s RENEW, in which more than 400 e-waste bins have been placed across Singapore. While this is encouraging, there are limits to a voluntary approach. Such programmes typically only result in the collection of portable info-communication technology (ICT) equipment, and the amount of e-waste collected is only a fraction of the total amount of e-waste generated annually.
5 In October 2016 and June 2017, NEA conducted focus group discussions with industry stakeholders to seek their views on a proposed e-waste management framework for Singapore. The first round gathered feedback on possible stakeholder responsibilities and system designs for e-waste management in Singapore, while the second round gathered feedback on the preliminary design of the e-waste management system. The stakeholders acknowledged the need to better manage the end-of-life treatment of e-waste and were generally supportive of the system proposed.
A Regulated E-waste Management System
6 NEA’s e-waste study found that the active participation of stakeholders, such as the Government, producers of electrical and electronic equipment, retailers, recyclers, and consumers is necessary to ensure that e-waste can be managed effectively and efficiently. For example, producers (e.g. brand owners and manufacturers) play a critical role in designing electronic equipment with greater potential for resource recovery. Retailers are key touchpoints to provide a convenient avenue for consumers to recycle e-waste.
Table 1 – List of electrical and electronic equipment covered under the Extended Producer Responsibility framework
|Personal Computers / Laptops
|Mobile Phones / Tablets
|Routers / Modems / Set-top boxes
||All types (except batteries classified as Toxic Industrial Waste, e.g. lead-acid batteries)
|Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Panels
Summary of Main Responsibilities for Key E-waste Stakeholders
- Engage and fund a licensed PRO
- Register with NEA through PRO
- Report amount of electrical and electronic equipment put-to-market to NEA through PRO
- Fulfil collection targets set by MEWR/NEA through PRO
|Producer Responsibility Organisations (PROs)
- Adhere to licensing requirements
- Develop and implement system(s) for the collection and recycling of e-waste
- Collect and transport e-waste to NEA licensed recyclers
- Report collection and recycling tonnage to NEA
- Develop and implement public education programmes
- Audit producers and contracted service providers
|Electrical and Electronic Equipment Retailers
- Provide free collection on a 1:1 basis whenever goods are delivered
- Large retailers to register and establish in-store collection point for small electronic goods
- Send collected e-waste to a licensed PRO / recycler
- Participate in public education programmes
- Obtain NEA license and meet recycling standards
- Keep proper records of entire e-waste treatment process
- Submit reports of amount of e-waste received and materials processed/recycled to NEA