It is always fun to get new electronic gadgets, but do you know what to do with the old ones?
We love new gadgets. Who doesn’t? Be it smartphones, laptops, computers or anything that has the word “smart” in front of it, if we can afford it (sometimes even if we can’t), we buy it.
It’s alright to want and buy new gadgets, but we tend to ignore an important question – what to do with the old ones?
If you have someone or somewhere to pass the old gadgets down to, that’s great. Chances are, however, like many Malaysians, you too do not know how or where to discard your e-waste.
The Department of Environment (DoE) Malaysia classifies e-waste as “broken, non-working or old/obsolete electric or electronic appliance such as television, personal computer, air conditioner, washing machine and refrigerator”.
This also includes smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles and basically anything else that runs on electricity.
DoE states that due to the fact that “household e-waste” in Malaysia is generally not discarded through the right channels, it isn’t able to capture actual data on the amount of household e-waste generated in the country. It defines “household e-waste” as originating from household, commercial and institutional units.
However, based on studies conducted in selected areas, the quantity of household e-waste generated is estimated to reach 53 million pieces in 2020 – 3.5 times higher than in 1995.
“Most of the technology in the market today can and should be recycled. Older model TVs, laptops and mobile phones can be taken apart,” says TM Recycle IT Sdn Bhd management representative executive Syamsul Amry Tahir.
“The components can be reused to fix electronics of similar make or model, and this will reduce the amount of broken or damaged items being thrown away and becoming a part of landfills.”
TM Recycle is one of the appointed contractors of DoE for proper recycling of e-waste in Malaysia.
“Disposal of electronic equipment regularly and safely is very important as the substances found in electrical components can harm the environment,” says Syamsul.
So what should you do if you have old smartphones, laptops and TVs lying around and want to dispose of them the right way? Find a collector that will dispose the e-waste properly for you.
Used Computer, a brand under TM Recycle, has a large-scale centralised processing, consolidation, sorting and recycling e-waste facility in Pulau Indah, Port Klang.
The company, which also has branches in Penang, Sabah and Sarawak, accepts e-waste in bulk from large organisations to small businesses and households.
Clients can go to www.usedcomputer.com.my to assess the equipment to be disposed of by entering all the relevant information, and even get an estimate for the amount of money that can be earned from the disposal.
“Clients can come over to our site for walk-in services but we do have our collection team to support our clients who do not wish to come from afar,” says Syamsul.
He adds that electronic equipment sent for disposal to Used Computer will be managed in accordance with the method approved by the DoE.
“We will try to recycle as many items as we can – equipment that can be used will be tested and refurbished before being resold as secondhand products,” he adds.
The items that don’t make the cut will be salvaged for spare parts while the rest will be dismantled and sorted before being sent to another company to handle the final disposal process.
Recycle and be rewarded
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment launched the E-waste Alam Alliance Recycling Programme in 2013 to increase the public’s awareness that the huge amount of e-waste being generated is causing a rapid build-up of e-waste contaminants in our landfills.
The programme also aims to expand the development of authorised private sector recycling infrastructure that includes proper collection, segregation and recycling of e-waste.
Senheng, one of the participants in the programme, wants to make it easy for the public to dispose of their e-waste.
Those who want to dispose non-bulky items like projectors, tablets, monitors, smartphones, VCD players, DVD players or printers can just walk in to any of its outlets with the item. The best part? You can even get cash vouchers for your contribution.
But if you have bulky items like TVs (conventional, LCD, LED or plasma), refrigerators, washing machines, dryers or air conditioners to get rid of, you can call the closest Senheng outlet to find out if it can send a representative to collect the items but you will not be eligible for cash vouchers. However, Senheng only accepts e-waste items that are complete, without any parts removed or scavenged.
IPC Shopping Centre in Petaling Jaya has an IPC Recycling & Buy-Back Centre which is a collection point for e-waste materials, including fluorescent tubes, light bulbs and batteries.
The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) also collects old devices under its Mobile e-Waste initiative. It accepts all types of e-waste materials, including smartphones, tablets and laptops, as well as power banks, chargers and various accessories.
The public can drop off their old mobile devices and accessories into Mobile e-Waste collection boxes located at participating outlets and Pusat Internet 1Malaysia (PI1M) across Malaysia. The complete list of participating outlets is available at bit.ly/2GAds7V.
The recyclers will then collect and transport the discarded devices to the Full Recovery Facility (FRF).
According to the website, users are responsible for the personal data on their mobile phones and are advised to erase their devices before dropping them off in the collection box.
Nevertheless, if you are unable to erase the data from the gadget because it’s not working anymore, the website also states that the devices will undergo “data wiping” process at the FRF.
And since the device will be dismantled during recycling, any remaining data will technically be impossible to access.
Recycling e-waste through the proper channels is important as it ensures that safety measures are followed so toxic chemicals like mercury and lead are not released into the environment, says Syamsul.
“Malaysians have to understand that not only does recycling help the environment and foster better health, it also provides more jobs,” he says.
“It also provides materials for new electronics without having to extract them from the environment.
“We must encourage more Malaysians to be conscious about how they discard e-waste. The resources and manpower to recycle are available so it is important that the public also do their part.”
Find out where you can go to recycle your e-waste here.