- Category: Media Coverage
- Published: Wednesday, 01 November 2017 11:16
- Written by EcoKnights .
Millions of televisions, computers and mobile phones are discarded each day by Malaysians and this particular type of trash, categorised as electronic waste, is starting to worry authorities.
Back in 2015, Malaysia had taken the major step to develop an electronic waste (e-waste) management, the first in South East Asia, after it was revealed that Malaysia is estimated to generate 53 million pieces of e-waste by 2020.
During the launch of the Household E-Waste Management in the Malaysia Web Portal and Info Kit two years ago, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafaremphasised on the need for a proper system to handle hazardous substances that are the by-products of e-waste such as mercury, zinc, lead and copper, as they pose a threat to the environment.
However two years since its establishment, awareness pertaining to e-waste is relatively low amongst Malaysians and e-waste expert Dr Tan Ching Seong relayed to The Star that not a single local community in the Klang Valley has established an effective method in managing e-waste.
“Compulsory waste separation at household levels imposed in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and several other states has failed to address e-waste.
“If one cares to take a look at our landfills, it is obvious that so much e-waste ends up there,” he lamented and added that the use of mobile phones is at an all-time high.
With just three years shy from 2020, Malaysian Digest caught up with various stakeholders to understand as to why Malaysians are taking their e-waste lightly.
Malaysians Are Unsure What To Do With Their E-Waste
Curious on what becomes of unused and unwanted electronic appliances and gadgets, Malaysian Digestconducted a random survey amongst 100 random members of the public and found that majority keep their unused electronic appliances and gadgets.
However, when asked why, the survey revealed that Malaysians are unsure what to do with their e-waste clutter:
“I think there’s roughly over five unused gadgets in my household of four because we’re not sure of what to do with them,” 24-year-old Hayana shared.
“Especially for mobile phones because my paranoia has led me to believe that tech-savvies could potential extract my personal data and information from my prior mobile devices.”
Be that as it may, Hayana communicated that she will be more than willing to recycle or donate her unused electric appliances in the event that her residential area provides an e-waste collection bin as she believes that it will be more convenient rather than driving out to a specific location.
While Hayana spoke that she and her family are unsure of what to do with their e-waste, Fatin Izzati stated that she and her family are sentimentally attached to most of their gadgets.
“I can’t speak for my siblings but for me personally, I feel guilty if I end up donating, recycling or selling off my old laptops, headphones and whatsoever because there were mostly gifts from my parents.
“While it aggravates me that these things are slowly cluttering up in my compartment space, I’m always reminded that my parents worked hard to grace me with the gifts and most of them are pricey – especially my MacBook Air,” the Tax Associate relayed.
However, Fatin stated that her family is more than willing to recycle unused electrical appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines as she jokingly said that her house cannot accommodate the large clutter.
“My parents often recycle such electronic appliances to the nearby Seng Heng store, and based on previous communications, they often salvage the appliances for parts or see if it is repairable.
“But for items such as light bulbs, batteries, we just dispose it with our other waste due to the absence of an e-waste bin at our residential area or anywhere nearby for that matter,” she shared.
Meanwhile, 22-year-old Azfar pointed out that he is aware that some electronic appliances and gadgets can be sold off for parts, to which the aspiring entrepreneur professed that he sees this as an opportunity.
“I know doing so won’t grace me with a lot of cash return; so before I resort to selling my old phones or gadgets to any electrical shops, I would attempt to sell it via social media.
“If no one shows any interest, I’ll sell it for parts – but it also depends on the condition because if it’s faulty, then I’ll just recycle it,” he shared.
Similar to Fatin, the Banking and Finance student communicated that his family often recycles their unused electronic appliances, but not their electronic devices as they are sceptical by the fact that data and information can be extracted.
“Call us paranoid but everyone knows that nothing is really ‘deleted,’ so hence why we’re quite reluctant to forego our old gadgets – even if they can no longer be switched on,” the young lad stated and suggested for the relevant stakeholders to be transparent with their recycling methods.
With that, Malaysian Digest asked random members of the public hailing from Klang Valley whether they will be keen to recycle their e-waste, should their respective residential association (RA) prepare e-waste bins, and the findings shows most people are receptive to the idea.
Malaysia Is In Desperate Need Of More Champions For E-Waste
EcoKnights, Yasmin Rasyid, who shared how the Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI) community has responded since the I Cycle bin was strategically placed in their premise.
“Since we started this programme a year ago, the community together with us have recycled 18,571 kg of solid waste and 117 community members have signed up for this programme and from this we’ve generated about RM1,900 in rewards point – in just a year,” she shared.
“This figure (117) reflects on individual sign-ups and does not include the corporate sign-ups based on EcoKnights’ recommendations as there are also many community members who did not sign up to the programme but regularly recycle with us as they are probably not that keen or bothered by the reward points.”
With such tremendous response, the Vice-Chariman of the Malaysian Environmental NGOs (MENGO) elaborated that some of the items that have been sent to the bin include household items such as beds, sofas, composites and some electronic items, which has been elucidated in the following chart:
“So far, every electronic items and gadgets can be recycled as we’ve received Playstation and Xboxes, old computers, radios (mini-compos), televisions, old mobile phones and its accessories and batteries, old batteries and even old exercising machines.
“You will be surprised at the kind of electronic items disposed at our place – we even received two working tablets before that were dumped in the bin,” she recounted and added that the NGO receives an average of 14.8kg e-waste out of 1,500kg of recyclable items on a monthly basis.
Asking Yasmin on what becomes of the e-waste upon collection, she conveyed that I Cycle collects, weights and records them, before sending them to a material recovering facility to sort out the various categories of e-waste prior to identifying the recycling potential of the items.
“We’ve been working with various partners like Digi, I Cycle and certain government agencies to promote awareness about the dangers of mismanagement of electronic waste and to encourage the public to recycle their e-waste.
“But despite our efforts in engaging talks with corporate players and facilitated a few corporates in adopting the I Cycle system in their office, we need more mass in ensuring that we get more people on board this effort,” she stressed.
On that note, Yasmin emphasised that Malaysia is in desperate need of more champions – from media, to corporate leaders, to politicians – to play bigger roles in educating the public with the relevant information on where to recycle e-waste, what happens to e-waste if left unattended, the impact on human health as well as the values of recycling e-waste – which can be lucrative.
One Man’s Junk Is Another Man’s Treasure
SOLS 24/7 Teacher Raj Ridvan Singh revealed to Malaysian Digest that the lifespan of electrical items and gadgets is continuous and can serve the underprivileged community.
The passionate teacher relayed that the NGO technology arm known as Sols Tech is armed with the goal to make technology accessible to everyone, whilst remaining committed to serving, educating and empowering poor and underserved communities through education and empowerment.
“Around 10 million Malaysians don’t have access to computers or the internet, yet literacy and access to information can make a big difference for young people to find opportunities and better jobs,” he pointed out.
“In cooperation with companies and foundations, we provide free technology and IT education for underserved communities and organisations in Malaysia.”
Sharing that the social enterprise collects roughly 50 cubic meters of e-wastes – consisting of used computers and electronic devices – on a monthly basis, Raj emphasised that e-waste can be converted into precious and beneficial items for the underprivileged community and NGOs.
“I would say between 35 cubic meters and 40 cubic meters out of 50 cubic meters can be recovered and donated forward to the underprivileged community,” he estimated.
“Once we’ve received the e-waste, we first split the items we received into two categories, which are fixable and impossible to fix, prior to registering all the donations in our electronic inventory system.”
The NGO moves on to data wipe the media drivers, USB drives, DVDs and so forth as per the Microsoft Refurbisher Programme Standard, whilst IT devices such as CPUs, laptops, monitors, printers are tested, refurbished, cleaned and rebuilt.
“Before donating the tech devices to the beneficiaries, we work with ngohub.asia, who validates that the requesting NGOs or Social Enterprises are registered and check on the number of beneficiaries,”
“We ensure there will be a computer for each 5/10 beneficiaries,” Raj explained.
However, Raj highlighted that while most of the cases the faulty electronic and gadgets are easy to fix, he underlined that the rapid advancement of technology demanded the team to be well-trained in order to face more complex difficulties on a daily basis as sometimes repair works is more tedious than usual.
He outlined how the programme initiated by the award-winning humanitarian organisation helps the underprivileged community use them for the following purposes:
As a matter of fact, since Sols Tech was launched in 2012, with the assistance of their partner the Hong Leong Foundation, the social enterprise has served over 200 organisations and donated over 1,900 full computer sets to the underprivileged in Malaysia.
While the dedicated teacher communicated that response from individuals and companies donating are acceptable, he lamented that there is a huge need to raise awareness as the main problem is to find sponsors to support the refurbishing costs.
“This could be a good opportunity to raise awareness on how recycled and refurbished e-waste can help make technology accessible to all walks of life,” Raj said.
On that note, the man behind Sols 24/7 highlighted why it is imperative for the public and business entities to recycle or donate e-waste:
In 2011 the Department of Environment (DOE) established the pilot project known as the ‘The Development Model For E-waste Collection, Segregation and Transportation from Household For Recycling,’ which was then followed up with the establishment off E-Waste Alam Alliance.
Under the sponsorship of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Malaysians can divert their unused appliance for recycling purposes at collection points under the E-Waste Alam Alliance programme listed here.
But apart from the DOE and Sols Tech, Malaysians can also visit happygokl.com to find out where they can recycle light bulbs as well as batteries.
As in doing so, local households will not only be rid of e-waste materials but will also have a helping hand in serving the underprivileged community.
- Malaysian Digest