IPOH, Sept 14 — In the last decade or so, the acceleration of communication technology has seen many Malaysians switch from using landlines to feature phones and smartphones at the swipe of a touchscreen.
While technology advances in leaps and bounds, the trusted electronics we use rapidly become redundant and are either kept in dusty corners of our homes or thrown in the bin — creating more pollution.
But what many may not know is that the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has a better option: recycling your electronic waste (e-waste) in a way that helps to protect the environment.
And it is as simple as dropping your unused electronics in a bin.
It is all part of MCMC’s Mobile e-Waste programme themed “Old Phone, New Life” that is on a mission to collect mobile e-waste devices through a joint recycling programme while educating the public about the importance of disposing such items via an environmentally-safe mode.
Introduced in August last year, the programme has seen 72 collection bins for e-waste set up across the country.
After collecting their old mobile devices and accessories, all the public need to do is drop them in any of the collections bins.
Recyclers will gather the waste and transport them to a facility in Penang, where urban mining will take place. The recovered materials will be used to create new products.
The recovered metals can be used by several different industries such as jewellery, plating, electronics, plumbing, automotive and art foundries to create products like automotive catalytic converters, plumbing faucets and piping, and gold or silver jewellery.
The plastics can be recycled into new products such as garden furniture, licence plate frames, non-food containers and replacement automotive parts.
MCMC’s Technology Development Director Badaruzzaman Mat Nor said the campaign initially started by collecting old, unused, unwanted SIM-based devices and accessories.
“This included cellular phones (2G phones), smartphones, tablets, phablets along with accessories and chargers," he said.
“Other types of e-waste that can fit into the collection box such as MP3 players, iPods, pen drives and portable hard disks are also accepted. Now, the programme has expanded to include portable ICT devices such as laptops, modems, power banks and desk phones.”
As of July 31,the programme has managed to collect 5,200 units of mobile e-waste and 170kg of e-waste related accessories such as chargers, adaptors and cables.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, an average mobile phone’s life span could range between 18 and 24 months.
Using that fact as a guide, a gigantic 65.7 million units of mobile phones registered between 2009 and 2014 in the Malaysian market could be considered as e-waste
“It is either lying at home unused or worse, thrown into landfills. This does not include unregistered mobile phones,” said Badaruzzaman.
“It is a pity as over 90 per cent of the materials used in mobile devices and accessories can be recovered.”
Worryingly, improperly disposed e-waste is not only hazardous to the environment, but also to public health.
With materials like cadmium, mercury, lithium and lead present in the waste, some of the adverse health effects of incorrect disposal include lung and kidney disease, skin damage, movement disorders, psychosis and damage of the central nervous system.
To promote the campaign, the Commission has organised several events around the country, as well as launching advertisements across various media platforms.
“MCMC is the main organiser for this programme, together with the Malaysian Technical Standards Forum Bhd (MTSFB), Altel Communications, Celcom Axiata, Digi Telecommunications, Maxis, TM and UMobile," said Badruzzaman.
“Shan Poornam Metals Sdn Bhd has been appointed as the recycling partner.
“It is good to note that partners now include Universiti Putra Malaysia, Lions Club of KB Blossoms, Courts Malaysia and several private schools.”
More information on the campaign may be found at mobileewaste.mcmc.gov.my as well as its Facebook, Instagram and Twitter profiles (www.facebook.com/mobileewaste/, instagram.com/mobileewaste & twitter.com/mobileewaste)
Badaruzzaman said it was in the public’s interest to join in the effort, for their own sake and the sake of coming generations.
“Malaysia has a low recycling rate and there are millions of devices thrown away or kept unused,” he said.
“Most importantly, the incentive here is for everyone to do their part for the environment by responsibly disposing off such devices in the proper manner. This is an ethical approach expected out of all persons, for their own peace of mind and also for future generations.”