NRES To Finalise Household-Generated E-Waste Disposal Regulations

Pic: Sinar

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Sustainability (NRES) is scrutinising the final draft of e-waste disposal regulations, to enable a mechanism for the management of e-waste, generated by households in this country, can be enforced next year.

Its Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad said that the e-waste management mechanism aims to deal with that generated by households and non-industrial sectors, such as commercial and institutions.

He said that the mechanism would involve refineries, importers and users, and registered collection and recycling centres, licensed under the Department of Environment (DOE).

“We already have the framework, but it needs to be adapted to the realities of the non-industrial sector; then once we have gone through an engagement process with interested parties, we will move to the next level,“ he told Bernama.

He said that Malaysia, similar to other countries, is no exception in ensuring that e-waste produced within the country is environmentally friendly, through improving legislation and developing an e-waste management mechanism.

According to Nik Nazmi, the draft regulations emphasise the concept of ‘extended producer responsibility and shared responsibility’ to all interested parties involved in producing six e-waste control items, namely refrigerators, washing machines, mobile phones, computers, air conditioners and televisions.

“Realising the increasing quantity of e-waste, which has become a global threat today, and the importance and need for a special management system to handle e-waste, more and more countries in the world have adopted regulations regarding this matter.

“Statistics show that e-waste is protected by laws, policies and regulations in 78 countries in 2019, compared with 61 countries in 2014. These statistics show that awareness about e-waste has begun to increase,” Bernama reported him saying.

He said that Taiwan, Japan and the European Union members have developed e-waste regulations for more than 20 years, while in recent years, several neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia have also developed their own e-waste regulations.

According to Nik Nazmi, Malaysia needs to have clear guidelines regarding the management of e-waste, especially to avoid contamination from hazardous materials contained in the waste if it is not disposed of correctly.

“Secondly, there is a new phenomenon called urban mining, namely efforts to recover metals and earth’s natural materials which are in e-waste, and can be recycled, making this guideline crucial,“ he said.

Currently, the e-waste disposal system is only implemented at the industrial level, while disposal at the household level or by the general public, is not carried out systematically, and is only thrown in the trash or disposed of illegally.

E-waste generated from industrial processes is under the purview of the DOE, through the Environmental Quality (Scheduled Wastes) Regulations 2005 and the Environmental Quality Act 1974, from the moment it is produced until it is disposed of.

The United Nations estimated that an average of 7.6 kilogrammes of e-waste was generated by each individual in 2021, which recorded the e-waste generation of 57.4 million tonnes worldwide.

This is very worrying, as it was found that only 17.4 per cent of e-waste was reported to be recycled or disposed of by environmentally sound management.

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