Speech by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, at the International E-waste Day Event on 14 October 2023
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning. Today is 14 October and is designated as the International E-waste Day – it is why we are all here today at Toa Payoh Hub. This is the third time we have marked this occasion in Singapore. In fact, International E-waste Day was only designated in 2018.
Proper Management of E-waste
2 Some people may ask why International E-waste Day? Electronic devices such as laptops, tablets, mobile phones, as well as household appliances including refrigerators, washing machines and air-conditioners, are a major part of our daily lives. Many of us cannot live without some of these devices and appliances. Some large appliances have a longer lifespan while other devices may need to be replaced every few years. Some also change their handphones even when there is no need to. Regardless of how long we use our devices for, what is important is that we ensure their proper collection and treatment of these electronic devices and equipment.
3 E-waste contains precious materials such as gold, silver and copper, which can be recovered to manufacture new products. This in turn reduces the need to mine for more raw materials. E-waste also contains heavy metals and toxic substances that can harm the environment and public health if not handled properly. In addition, a more circular approach to managing e-waste will contribute to achieving our Singapore Green Plan 2030 target, which is to achieve a 30 per cent reduction in the amount of waste sent to Semakau Landfill by 2030. We hope this will extend the lifespan of Semakau Landfill beyond 2035.
International E-waste Day 2023 Event
4 Today’s International E-Waste Day event is co-organised by the National Environment Agency and ALBA. The aim of this is to recognise the efforts and contributions of key stakeholders in the proper management of e-waste. We will be presenting tokens of appreciation to all the Town Councils today for helping us to collect bulky e-waste from households. This is important as many may not know where to deposit them and may discard them. We should give our Town Councils a big round of applause for helping ALBA to organise quarterly e-waste collection drives in their respective housing estates.
5 Secondly, we want to recognise the winners of the inter-school e-waste collection competition organised this year, which involves 40 schools across Singapore. The aim of the competition is to raise students’ awareness about e-waste recycling and encourage them and their friends and family members to recycle e-waste. I am heartened that during the competition period we collected 3,100 kg, or more than three tonnes, of e-waste by all the schools. I want to thank the schools for doing a great job.
6 Thirdly, many organisations are stepping up efforts to manage e-waste sustainably. Today, we have with us companies as well as retailers and recyclers, who have set up exhibition booths to showcase their role in the e-waste management ecosystem. I look forward to visiting them later, and I hope you will do the same because they show what goes on behind the scenes of e-waste recycling.
Extended Producer Responsibility Scheme for E-waste
7 In July 2021, the National Environment Agency (NEA) implemented 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 the proper end-of-life collection and treatment of products that they supply to the Singapore market.
8 NEA appointed ALBA E-Waste Smart Recycling (ALBA) as the Producer Responsibility Scheme Operator or PRS Operator, to collect regulated consumer e-waste across Singapore, and send it for recycling on behalf of producers.
9 Consumers like you and I can deposit our e-waste conveniently at close to 800 e-waste collection points located across the island at easily accessible places, such as electronics retail outlets, shopping malls, community centres, supermarkets, government and commercial buildings. To make e-waste recycling even more convenient for residents, ALBA also organises scheduled e-waste collection drives at housing estates every quarter.
10 Earlier this year, NEA conducted a survey to find out the level of awareness of collection avenues under the EPR scheme. One of the key findings is that consumer awareness of the One-for-One Takeback service offered by all electronics retailers under the EPR scheme is rather low. Retailers that provide this takeback service will collect old, unwanted appliances and send them for recycling free-of-charge when they deliver your new appliances to your homes. NEA is working with ALBA to raise awareness of the One-for-One Takeback service through additional communications and outreach programmes.
11 I am encouraged and heartened that since we implemented the EPR scheme, ALBA has collected more than 12,000 tonnes of e-waste.
Consultancy Study for Packaging EPR
12 We will continue to enhance the EPR Scheme for e-waste and the collection network, because more people will recycle their e-waste if it is easy to do so. For instance, there are recycling bins for batteries in supermarkets, so people can drop their used batteries conveniently. We are also looking into extending the EPR approach to better manage packaging waste. As the first phase of the EPR scheme for packaging waste management, NEA has been working with the industry to implement a beverage container return scheme in 2025. NEA is also studying an EPR scheme to manage other types of packaging waste beyond beverage containers. In this regard we have recently called a consultancy tender to review best practices and recommend an EPR scheme suitable for Singapore’s context.
13 As we commemorate International E-waste Day, I want to encourage everyone to join in this sustainability journey and get your friends and family members to do so too. We can make a difference by first reducing the amount of e-waste we generate and ensuring that we place e-waste at designated collection points instead of discarding them with our general waste.
14 When you adopt this circular approach and manage e-waste properly, you contribute to our goal of making Singapore clean and green. In fact, today’s International E-waste Day event is designated as a satellite event of our annual Clean and Green Singapore (CGS) movement, which culminates in the CGS Day to be held on 4 November. The CGS movement aims to inspire Singaporeans to care for and protect our environment so that together we can build adopting a clean, green, and sustainable Singapore not just for ourselves but for future generations. Each of us can adopt greener practices, champion a sustainable way of life, and contribute to a more gracious society. Let us reduce our e-waste by considering whether we need to purchase new gadgets or appliances and repairing old appliances where possible. The proper recycling of e-waste enables us to recover precious resources. As with today’s event theme - what is e-waste today can become new gadgets tomorrow.
15 I would once again like to thank all our partners for supporting us in our e-waste management journey. Congratulations to all the award recipients. Once again, I encourage everyone to support us in this journey to build a more sustainable Singapore.
16 Thank you.