Singapore to have 100 bins to collect electronic waste

StarHub, DHL Express, and TES-AMM partner to expand e-waste recycling initiative that will see 100 bins placed across Singapore, providing the public a way to get rid of their unwanted IT devices and equipment.

Plans are underway to place more than 100 bins across Singapore to collect electronic devices and IT equipment that consumers no longer want, so these can be recycled or safely disposed. 

The e-waste recycling initiative was launched this week by local telco StarHub, logistics company DHL Express, and local e-waste recycling services vendor, TES-AMM. The collected waste will be checked and stripped of raw materials that can be reused, said the partners in a joint statement. Mobile phones, for instance, can be dismantled and distributed into four recycling components — plastic housing and keypads, printed circuit boards, batteries, and ferrous metals. 

The programme aims to have more than 100 e-waste bins in the island by end-2014, providing the public a safer way to get rid of their unwanted IT devices and equipment for free. The goal would be to put the e-waste collection bins in educational institutions, shopping malls, as well as government and office buildings.  

The initiative is an expansion of an existing scheme first unveiled by StarHub and TES-AMM during Earth Hour in March 2012, which collected almost 2,700kg in e-waste in the first year. When this grew to the current network of bins in 30 locations, the amount of e-waste collected climbed to more than 6,500kg last year. To date, in 2014, this e-landfill clocks at more than 5,600kg. 

The addition of DHL as a third partner will avail logistics services for free, according to the statement. Citing stats from the National Environment Agency, the companies noted that Singapore produces some 60,000 tonnes of e-waste each year, with households contributing half of the amount while the other half comes from industrial sources. 

With technology trends changing rapidly, product lifecycles shortening, and consumer prices falling, the volume of e-waste is increasing worldwide and if disposed incorrectly, can leak toxic substances and cause severe pollution and health issues. 

Herbert Vongpusanachai, senior vice president and managing director of DHL Express Singapore, revealed that 20 to 50 million tonnes of e-waste were estimated to be produced globally each year, but only 12.5 oercent are recycled. Logistics is a key driver of improving efficiency of waste worldwide, he said.

The partners are looking to deploy hundreds more bins over the next two to three years, depending on public response and demand.

TES-AMM COO Scott Mac Meekin said: "With e-waste being the largest contributor, as well as among the fastest-growing toxic waste streams, it is a critical responsibility for all of us to ensure our unwanted electronic devices are disposed of responsibly."

Items that are accepted in the e-waste bins include mobile phones, laptops, DVD players, cable modems, remote controls, keyboards, mice, set-top boxes, and lithium-ion batteries.