KUALA LUMPUR: Although Malaysians are more aware of the importance of recycling solid waste, many still discard electrical and electronic goods (e-waste) arbitrarily, not realising the negative impact on health and the environment.
A 2015 study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency estimated the generation of e-waste by households in Malaysia to reach 24.5 million units by 2025.
Taking a cue from this, the Department of Environment (DOE) aims to collect 100 metric tonnes of e-waste from households this year through an E-Waste Collection Day, to be carried out on the last Saturday of every month.
Disposal of e-waste would be in an eco-friendly way, through environmentally sound management.
DOE director-general Norlin Jaafar said through the campaign, to be launched at the end of the month, the public could send unwanted electrical and electronic goods, including mobile phones, air conditioners, washing machines and refrigerators to 123 collection centres and 21 DOE-registered recovery facilities nationwide.
“But with the movement control order, we suggest that the public gather the goods at their homes first.
‘’The collection centre also provides incentives such as discount vouchers for purchase of electrical goods, ” she said.
Norlin said environmentally friendly e-waste management could help the government save RM60mil a year and RM22.8mil a year in recycling cost, besides being able to reduce e-waste at solid waste landfills by up to 56,000 tonnes a year.
“In e-waste, there are precious metals that can be recovered and reused, to reduce dependence on natural resources that need to be mined, ” she said.
Norlin said society’s role was important in achieving the goal as e-waste contained heavy metals that could 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 discarded properly.
E-waste that is not disposed of in an eco-friendly manner – such as by incineration – can 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 could affect the body’s immune system and internal organs, if inhaled.
Disposal of e-waste at solid waste landfills could cause leachate pollution of the surface and ground water as the heavy metals dissolve in the soil.
The content of refrigerant in refrigerators and air conditioners could cause depletion of the ozone layer, if not discarded properly.
Norlin said with technical assistance from Japan, DOE had developed an e-waste management mechanism with the concept of Extended Producer’s Responsibility, whereby the manufacturers should be responsible for ensuring eco-friendly e-waste management after the end of product life, as being done in most developed countries.
“In the past, manufacturers only sold products.
“How and where to dispose of the old products are problems 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. — Bernama