Targets set for raw materials saved from e-waste

At least 50 per cent of raw materials will have to be recovered from the amount of e-waste collected here, under the Resource Sustainability Regulations 2021 that came into force last month.

SINGAPORE - Recyclers here have a duty to recover at least 50 per cent of raw materials from the e-waste they receive each year.

While the weight of the raw materials salvaged from batteries must be at least 50 per cent of the total weight of the batteries collected, this target increases to 70 per cent for information and communications technology (ICT) equipment and solar photovoltaic panels.

The goal is 80 per cent for large appliances and lamps.

These regulations set by the Government are part of Singapore's e-waste recycling drive, which started on July 1.

The aim is to collect about 20,000 tonnes of e-waste out of some 60,000 tonnes generated in the country annually.

Under the scheme, certain types of e-waste are collected by the National Environment Agency's appointed company Alba E-Waste Smart Recycling.

The latter sends the items to the six licensed recyclers under the scheme.

Alba general manager Fons Krist said: "The recyclers selected are all expected to achieve the minimum targets set by the Resource Sustainability Act... We are exploring new technologies with recyclers to understand how else we can improve the material recovery rate beyond what is required."

Another way of boosting the recovery rate is refurbishing the item if it is found in working condition, as one of its recyclers, Virogreen, is doing.

At Virogreen, the recovery rate for e-waste that cannot be repaired stands at about 80 per cent to 100 per cent.

Materials that cannot be recycled are typically packaging types, such as styrofoam and sponges.

Mr Tommy Yeo, business development director at Virogreen, said the facility in Tuas processes about 100 tonnes of e-waste per month on average.

"Each worker can process about 50 laptops per day. Most of our workers are deployed at their respective stations, so they each have their own specialities and are thus more efficient ," he added.

The raw materials that are salvaged are sent to manufacturers which use them to make new products.

Virogreen donates the items that are refurbished.

Since last month, Alba said it has collected more than 200 tonnes of large household appliances.

Of these, air-conditioners make up the bulk, at 160 tonnes.

About 15 tonnes of ICT equipment, such as laptops, have also been accumulated.

There are multiple ways for consumers to recycle their e-waste, such as depositing the items in e-waste recycling bins, as well as tapping bulky-item disposal services provided by town councils and collection services offered by some retailers.