KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 6 — Although the society is more aware on the importance of recycling solid waste such as paper and plastic, but many still simply disposed off their electrical and electronic goods (e-waste), not realising the negative impact on health and the environment by their doing.
Technological innovations, especially mobile phones, are growing rapidly and this directly increases the generation of e-waste for disposal, with a study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency in 2015 estimating the generation of e-waste by households in Malaysia to reach 24.5 million units by 2025.
On this realisation, the Department of Environment (DOE) aims to collect 100 metric tonnes of e-waste from households this year through the E-Waste Collection Day campaign.
It will be carried out on the last Saturday of every month, whereby the items will be disposed of in an eco-friendly manner or through environmentally sound management (ESM).
Its director-general, Norlin Jaafar said through the campaign, to be launched at the end of this month, the public could send their unwanted electrical and electronic goods, including mobile phones, air conditioners, washing machines and refrigerators to 123 collection centres and 21 DOE-registered recovery facilities throughout the country.
“However, considering the current movement control order (MCO), we suggest that the public gather the goods at their home first. The collection centre also provides incentives such as discount vouchers for purchase of electrical goods,” she told Bernama.
Norlin said environmentally friendly e-waste management could help the government to reduce cost of RM60 million a year and RM22.8 million a year in recycling cost, besides being able to reduce e-waste at solid waste landfills of up to 56,000 tonnes a year.
“In e-waste, there are still precious metals that can be recovered and recycled to reduce dependence on natural resources that still need to be mined,” she said.
She said the role of the society is important in achieving the goal as the waste contains heavy metals that can be harmful to human health, such as causing damage to the nervous system, peripheral nervous system, blood and kidney system and inhibiting the development of children’s brains, if not disposed properly.
She said e-waste that is not disposed in an eco-friendly manner, such as by incineration, has the potential to release harmful gases such as dioxins and furans, as the goods contain toxic substances and harmful heavy metals, such as lead, mercury and arsenic, which can affect the body immune system and internal organs, if inhaled.
Disposal of e-waste at solid waste landfills can cause leachate pollution of the surface and ground water as the heavy metals dissolve in the soil.
The content of refrigerant (refrigerant) in refrigerators and air conditioners can cause depletion of the ozone layer, if not disposed of properly.
Norlin said DOE, with technical assistance from Japan, has also developed an e-waste management mechanism from households that highlights the concept of Extended Producer’s Responsibility (EPR) , whereby the manufacturers should be responsible for ensuring eco-friendly e-waste management after the end of product life, as being done by most developed countries.
“In the past, manufacturers only sold products and how to dispose of the products is left to consumers. We have also held engagements with manufacturers, distributors and all stakeholders to get the best method in achieving a win-win situation,” she said.