WHERE in the country is the material recovery plant that receives and sends recyclables for reprocessing and recycling?
Malaysian Environmental NGOs (Mengo) chairman Yasmin Rasyid has asked the Government this question for years, but has yet to receive an answer.
She was commenting on StarMetro’s story calling for a better e-waste collection and management mechanism to be put in place.
“Although several local councils have implemented mandatory waste separation, the community is generally not confident about how the recyclables are going to be treated, especially e-waste which is highly hazardous.
“Furthermore, without any assuring answers from the Government on the availability of an MRF (material recovery facility), the residents would rather send recyclables to NGOs,” she said when met at the community recycling centre occupying part of Mengo’s office in Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI), Kuala Lumpur.
She highlighted that the lack of continuity in policies and campaigns introduced by the Government frustrated the community most.
“Over the years, we see so much of thought and energy put into encouraging recycling but they are often reset with the change of the minister in charge,” she added.
However, members of the community can be the change they want to see in better e-waste management, she added.
Yasmin said it would be helpful if they could set up a basic recycling corner for their respective neighbourhoods and send the collected items in bulk to the right locations, adding that information on collection points could be found easily on the Internet.
She advised local groups, such as residents associations, to first seek help from an NGO to hold talks to raise consciousness among stakeholders before deciding on what actions could best mobilise for an “organic, community-driven initiative”.
To enable effective collection of recyclables including e-waste, local leaders need to have several boxes ready in a covered place, she said, adding that for e-waste, residents only need to handle them with more care such as wrapping them up to avoid hurting others.
She said the enthusiasm shown by TTDI residents were encouraging.
In January and February when residents did spring cleaning for Chinese New Year, the iCycle Blue Bin in TTDI collected 97.2kg of computer parts, 40.42kg of electronic and electrical items and 1.8kg of dry cell batteries.
The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC)’s Mobile e-Waste Collection Box placed there also collected plenty.
Printers, scanners and CPUs were the most common items disposed.
Yasmin said the residents found the boxes helpful because the MCMC box was locked to prevent thefts while the iCycle system quantified the recyclables.
“We hope the country is more transparent in quantifying the recyclables in order to be really sustainable,” she said, urging the Government to support recyclable collectors by cutting the red tape.
“We have seen the rise and fall of many recycling companies in the past, we hope the Government can also legalise the small-time collectors if they are here to make a decent living.”
Resident Margaret Lee, 57, visits the community recycling centre frequently as “she has more confidence in the NGO’s way of handling the recyclables”.
“We want to help our community and country to go green, but where do the recyclables end up? Are they still sent to the landfill? These are unanswered questions,” she said.
Taman Melawati resident K.W. Chan, in response to the article, urged the authorities to set up more e-waste collection points in public and to adopt a “proven technical process” to handle e-waste.
“Over the years, I have witnessed unwanted computers and printers dumped by the roads.
“Without much information on collection of such materials, I have been keeping my old computers and handphones in my house,” he said.
He shared that the few collection points he managed to find were eventually removed, and he still had difficulty disposing of them safely.
“I am also saddened by reports of e-waste’s harm to our health and environment, thus wondering about the safety standards of our e-waste collection centres.
“Are workers provided with personal protection equipment? Are untreated waste chemicals allowed to flow into drains and rivers?
“We, the public, need to be informed on all these,” he added.
E-waste collection points - MyCIE’s EW (e-Waste), CFL (Compact Florescent Lamp) & FL (Florescent Lamp) Recycling Programme: http//www.mycie.org.my/recycling-programme/
MCMC’s Mobile e-Waste: Old Phone, New Life joint recycling programme: http://mobileewaste.mcmc.gov.my/en-us/where-do-we-recycle
iCycle’s carbon stores and blue bins: http://www.icycle-global.com/Go%20Rewards.html