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Issue 46
December , 2013
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Call for policy on disposal of e-waste

Source: Malaysian Reserve, Date: December , 2013

Malaysia, which generates almost a million tonnes of potentially toxic electronic waste, needs a national policy on its disposal urgently before it can impact the environment.

According to Eric Ku, cofounder and COO of iTrain Malaysia Sdn Bhd, the increased use of popular electronic gadgets like handphones and computers has created the waste which are not being disposed properly.

E-waste is one of the scheduled wastes stipulated by the Environmental Quality Regulations 2005 under the Environmental Quality Act, 1974.

The waste is usually toxic because it contains heavy metals. “At present, the e-waste almost touches one million tonnes per year with majority of it contributing from household wastes. Mobile phones leads the e-waste followed by other household items such as blender, washing machines, toasters etc,” he told The Malaysian Reserve in an interview recently.

He said mobile phone usage in Malaysia has increased by 16% points to 63% of the population in 2013 from 47% in 2012.

“When a person buys a new phone, what do they do with their old phones? Current trend in Malaysia is that a person owns more than one phones, and the rest just keep their old mobile phones under their cupboard or desk.

Very few people exchange their phones with new ones,” he said.

To address this rising issue of e-waste, the government under the Department of Environment (DoE) and Japan International Cooperation Agency has mooted a pilot project on e waste management set in Penang on June last year.

The project aims to figure out possible e-waste collection system that is expected to be used as a model for nationwide collection system expansion. The proposed Penang ewaste project was conducted for 18 months, whereby it is in the final stage of digesting data of its performance so far.“We believe we can come out with a proper model very soon as the pilot project seem to be successful. We are almost there.” he added.

He said the model is essential as many materials contained in different e-wastes can be potentially hazardous, if improperly handled throughout their lifecycle.
“If the e-waste are disposed in landfills, these materials have potential to leach in landfills and contaminate surface and ground water. In addition, the resources are lost for future use,” Ku said.The code of e-waste is SW110. DoE has a responsibility to control the SWs including e-waste.

Among the DoE’s responsibilities, especially, DoE has the all rights to license the solid waste management companies to deal with SWs, including ewastes. “Generally, it is not easy to develop an appropriate and effective waste collection system from households, because it requires a strong change in people’s waste discarding behaviour besides other issues such as logistics,” he said.

The combined e-waste generated by households, businesses and institutions sector was 592,391 tonnes in 2006, 639,493 tonnes in 2007 and 624,143 tonnes in 2008; the annual average generated was 635,030 tonnes. According to the DoE forecast, e-waste will touch 1.11 million metric tonnes in 2020.

 

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