3R Programmes and Resources

E-Waste Management

What is E-Waste? 

E-waste is electrical and electronic equipment of any kind that has been discarded. It includes practically anything powered by an electrical source (e.g., from a power socket or a battery). Common types of e-waste include the following:

  • Infocomm technology (ICT) equipment, such as desktop, laptop and tablet computers, mobile phones, computer and mobile phone batteries, printers, peripherals and accessories such as keyboards, modems, monitors, computer mice, docking stations, hard disk drives, battery chargers, etc.
  • Home appliances, such as TVs, refrigerators, air conditioners, washing machines, rice cookers, microwave and toaster ovens, electric kettles, food processors and blenders, electric fans, DVD/video/music players, radios, hi-fis, vacuum cleaners, etc.
  • Other types of e-waste include lamps and lighting devices, batteries, electronic toys, sports and leisure equipment, etc.

E-waste is mostly made up of metal and plastic components, but also contains small amounts of heavy metals and substances of concern (e.g., in printed circuit boards). The wide variety of e-waste makes it hard to generalise the material content – for example, fridges and air conditioners in particular contain refrigerants to enable cooling to take place, but these refrigerants may also contribute to ozone layer depletion or climate change; the material composition of a mobile phone is very different from that of an electric kettle.

As an individual or household, you can reduce e-waste in the following ways:

  • Repair electronic equipment where feasible
  • Reuse/donate items in working condition
  • Recycle unwanted items by making use of voluntary recycling schemes spearheaded by industry stakeholders


E-waste recycling

NEA has been working closely with industry partners and communities to encourage e-waste recycling through voluntary programmes led by industry partners. Find out more about the programmes and where to recycle your e-waste here.

While voluntary e-waste recycling measures have yielded encouraging results, NEA recognises limitations of a voluntary approach and need for a regulated system in the long run. We are keen to expand on these voluntary initiatives and put in place a regulated e-waste management system that will better ensure that e-waste recycling is made convenient and conducted in an environmentally friendly way. A study is being conducted to develop feasible systems for the collection and recycling of e-waste.

Upstream controls

Restriction of hazardous substances for electrical and electronic equipment

As part of the effort in environmental sustainability and overall plan to minimise the environmental impact of e-waste, NEA has implemented upstream controls via the restriction of hazardous substances (RoHS) in electrical and electronic equipment (EEE). The control measures, which took effect on 1 June 2017, restrict the level of six hazardous substances in identified types of EEE. This will reduce the amount of heavy metals entering our waste stream and increase the potential recyclability of incineration ash, in turn extending the lifespan of Semakau Landfill.

Fluorescent lamps and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs)

Fluorescent lamps and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are different from other types of lamps as they contain trace amounts of mercury within the glass enclosure. Mercury plays a pivotal role in the production of light and cannot be totally eliminated. Since 1 July 2012, only lamps with low levels of mercury (less than 10mg for straight and circular lamps, less than 5mg for CFLs) are allowed to be imported for use in Singapore. In keeping with our environmental standards, such lamps can be safely disposed along with general waste at our waste-to-energy incineration plants.

Batteries

Since 1 June 1992, Singapore has imposed restrictions on the mercury content in mercury oxide, zinc carbon and alkaline batteries. Local sale of batteries exceeding the stipulated mercury content is not allowed. Used batteries can hence be safely discarded along with normal household waste at our waste-to-energy incineration plants.

The plants are equipped with pollution control equipment to remove pollutants and ensure that the emissions meet the standards prescribed in the Environmental Protection and Management Act.

The use of rechargeable batteries is encouraged to reduce the quantity of discarded batteries. Currently, only laptop and mobile phone battery recycling services are available. Lead-acid batteries are classified as Toxic Industrial Waste and must be treated as such.


Recycling e-waste protects human and environmental health.

Improper disposal of e-waste leads to environmental pollution and this may in turn harm human health. The best way to treat e-waste is to recycle it properly. E-waste comprises many different components and requires specialised equipment to dismantle, shred, process and extract the constituent materials that can then be turned into new products. This has to be performed within a controlled system to prevent pollution and ensure workplace safety and health.

Recycling e-waste helps to conserve our earth’s precious natural resources.

Recycled material is used to make new products. This reduces the need to mine limited raw materials from the earth. Reducing the need for mining also lowers pollution, as the process of mining has an impact on our environment.

Find out where to recycle your e-waste here.