Speech by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment, at the Virtual Launch of SGTech and Sustainable Living Lab’s eRevival Square Initiative, on 25 July 2021
Mr Wong Wai Meng, Chairman, SGTech
Mr Veerappan Swaminathan, Founder and Director of Sustainable Living Lab
Ladies and Gentlemen
1 Good morning everyone. It is my pleasure to join you today for the launch of SGTech and Sustainable Living Lab’s new initiative, “eRevival Square”. I understand that this initiative seeks to raise awareness on the need for sustainable management of our electrical and electronic waste, or e-waste for short. This initiative is timely, as it will help to foster a culture of reduce, reuse and recycle among Singaporeans to address the growing amount of e-waste here.
2 Singapore generates about 60 million kilogrammes of e-waste each year. This is equivalent to each of us throwing away about 70 mobiles phones every year. The use of electronic products has increased in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, where more people are working from home as a default, and students are switching to virtual platforms for home-based learning. With more people staying at home, there is also an increase in demand for gaming and home entertainment, resulting in the purchase of products like information and communications technology (ICT) equipment and TVs. At the same time, businesses are also adopting greater digitalisation to improve communication and productivity. These practices will eventually lead to more e-waste being generated as electronic products reach their end-of-life.
3 At our current rate of waste generation, the Semakau Landfill, our only landfill, is expected to be filled up by 2035. Under the Singapore Green Plan 2030 launched earlier this year, we have set a target to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill by 20 per cent by 2026. Reducing our waste will not only help to extend the lifespan of Semakau Landfill, it will also reduce our carbon footprint from the production, transportation, and incineration processes.
Extended Producer Responsibility Scheme for E-waste
4 Earlier this month, the National Environment Agency (NEA) launched the Extended Producer Responsibility scheme for e-waste management, or EPR scheme for short. Under the EPR scheme, producers of regulated electrical and electronic equipment are responsible for ensuring the proper disposal and treatment of products that they supply to the Singapore market at their end-of-life. NEA has appointed ALBA E-Waste Smart Recycling as the Producer Responsibility Scheme (PRS) Operator to collect regulated consumer e-waste across Singapore for proper treatment and recycling on behalf of the producers.
5 With this new national e-waste management system, consumers like you and I can expect various convenient e-waste collection avenues. ALBA’s e-waste recycling bins can be found at shopping malls, community clubs, large electronic retail outlets and supermarkets. ALBA will also conduct scheduled e-waste collection drives at housing estates for the convenience of residents. All e-waste collected will be sent to NEA licensed e-waste recyclers for proper treatment.
6 Retailers supplying regulated consumer products also play an important role under the EPR scheme. They have set up in-store collection services for regulated consumer products. Retailers that deliver new consumer products such as refrigerators and TVs will also offer their customers free takeback services for discarded products of the same type on a one-for-one basis.
7 I am glad to note that the response to the scheme has been encouraging so far. ALBA has collected about 220 tonnes of e-waste since the commencement of the EPR scheme. This is equivalent to the average weight of about 1,900 refrigerators. It is important for us to recycle our e-waste so that useful materials such as copper wires, plastic and metal may be extracted and repurposed for various uses.
The “eRevival Square” Initiative
8 Since 2020, SGTech has been a key advocate in representing producers and sharing constructive feedback with NEA. The feedback has been useful in developing and refining the PRS to ensure the smooth implementation of the EPR scheme. SGTech has also established a Sustainability Committee within the association, to identify opportunities to collaborate with stakeholders along the e-waste value chain. NEA will continue to work closely with SGTech to reach out to a wider segment of consumers and businesses on sustainable e-waste management.
9 The “eRevival Square” initiative is one such collaboration between SGTech’s Sustainability Committee and social enterprise Sustainable Living Lab to raise awareness of e-waste and the broader issue of sustainability. Many of us are aware of the 3Rs, namely ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle’. The “eRevival Square” complements the 3Rs, and aims to cultivate a repair culture in Singapore to prolong the lifespan of electronic and electrical products, thereby minimising wastage. I am heartened to know that participants of this initiative will be able to learn basic skills to properly dismantle and repair their old or faulty appliances, while receiving some rewards in the process.
10 I would like to commend SGTech and Sustainable Living Lab for organising this timely initiative, which coincides with NEA’s implementation of the e-waste EPR scheme. I hope that more stakeholders will be inspired by your efforts, and will come forward to support such meaningful initiatives.
11 All of us can play a role in embracing a repair culture to reduce our e-waste. We can also carefully consider the need to purchase new products or choose to buy second-hand products instead. For our unused or unwanted devices, we can choose to donate them to those in need. Together, we can make Singapore a Zero Waste Nation!