More than 90 per cent of a mobile phone can be recycled. In fact, newer models can simply be refurbished and resold in other markets - but only if owners dispose of these gadgets properly as electronic waste. Telcos which have set up e-waste bins reported exponential growth in the amount of e-waste they collect. There has been much talk recently about plastic waste. This has heightened awareness about the need to cut down on such waste. Hopefully as consumers become more aware of pollution and environmental issues, they will also get more familiar with the need to properly dispose of e-waste. The growth in the telcos' e-waste collection suggests that this is happening. It also indicates that Singaporeans better understand that there is a safe avenue to dispose of the e-waste generated by the growth of information and communication technology (ICT).
Singapore generates 60,000 tonnes of e-waste every year, of which ICT waste makes up only 5 per cent. The bulk of this comprises larger household appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines. Reclaiming materials from such waste is feasible if there are more and proper channels for their disposal. Recycling is also safer as incinerating e-waste releases toxic fumes into the environment and wastes the precious metals that can be extracted. Government agencies can step in with more education and outreach as well as infrastructural support so Singaporeans get more familiar with how and where to dispose of e-waste.