BELAIT – Due to the lack of facilities for proper disposal of electronic waste, two local recycling companies have joined hands to create a platform where Brunei residents can unload their e-waste.

Stressing the dangers of improper disposal of e-waste, Green Depot — Belait district’s newest recycling centre — and Daikyo Environmental Recycling Sdn Bhd want raise more awareness and export local e-waste to Japan.

According to the general manager of the Green Depot, who is also a Legislative Council member, YB Khairunnisa Hj Ash’ari, although the overall awareness of recycling among Bruneians is strong, e-waste is still new and not many are aware of it.

E-waste refers to any discarded electrical or electronic devices, which often contain substances that are hazardous to the environment therefore must be disposed of correctly.

LegCo member YB Khairunnisa (L) explaining Green Depot’s recording process and online interface to Deputy Managing Director of BSP Yap Kong Fah (C). Photo: Wardi Wasil/The Scoop

“The way to manage e-waste is specific [due to the hazardous chemicals they contain], however most people just lump e-waste with their regular waste [and] in some cases, people have tried to dispose their e-waste through burning,” she said.

According to 2015 study done by the United Nations University, Brunei produces 18kg of e-waste per person each year, comprising one percent of Brunei’s total waste.

The figure, however, is expected to increase as most residents of the sultanate own more than one electronic device and with the constant technological advancement, these devices will be replaced quicker.

The Green Depot primarily handles recyclable materials including paper, plastic bottles, aluminum tins and metal but the centre also accepts e-waste such as computer parts, TVs and microwave ovens in an effort to reduce the amount of e-waste going to the nation’s landfill.

The recyclable materials will then be weighed and recorded on an online system. This will allow users to keep track of the amount of waste they have recycled as well as the accumulated money they have earned from recycling.

YB Khairunnisa said that waste donated at the Green Depot will be purchased by Daikyo, and users will only be reimbursed for the recyclable materials they have donated. She added that no fixed price has been set for recycling e-waste in the sultanate.

Daikyo Environmental Recycling Sdn Bhd is one of the only companies in Brunei authorised in the collection and export of hazardous materials, including scrap metal and electronic waste.

A representative from Daikyo, James Hung, said that when it comes to managing e-waste, a license is required due to the hazardous chemicals contained in electronics such as lead, mercury and arsenic.

Yap Kong Fah, deputy managing director of BSP, officiating the launch of the Green Depot by depositing the facility’s first recyclables. Photo: Wardi Wasil/The Scoop

“When e-waste is just dumped in a landfill where it gets exposed to the elements, they can erode causing acid or chemical leakage which will result in soil and water contamination,” he said.

He added that the company has been collecting e-waste in the sultanate for five years, however, admitted that their export of e-waste “has not been growing” due to the public’s general lack of awareness.

“People generally think when their electronics are no longer functioning, they bring them to the landfill in Sungai Paku or Sungai Akar, which is a mentality that we want to change as it is hazardous to the environment”.

In the last five years, Daikyo has exported more than 15 tonnes of e-waste to Japan. James noted that the profit earned from it was just “slightly above breakeven” as prices of used electronics are “unstable”, with no ceiling price established.

Nonetheless, Daikyo is keen on increasing awareness on e-waste. The collaboration with Green Depot is part of that effort, by to incentivising customers to donate e-waste.

It aims to change the local mindset, to not be “economically driven” when it comes to the efforts of preserving the environment, especially the act of recycling e-waste.

“There are plans [in the pipeline]… and we want to engage more stakeholders, like other IT companies and government ministries, to cooperate with us as they use a great number of electronics.”

During LegCo this year, Minister of Development YB Dato Seri Paduka Hj Suhaimi Hj Gafar said that the government is exploring options for a dedicated site for the storage and process of e-waste.

According to the Global E-waste Monitor 2017, global e-waste generation was around 44.7 million metric tonnes. By the year 2021, the amount of e-waste is expected to grow to 52.2 metric tonnes, with an annual growth rate of three to four percent.

The Green Depot is open every day of the week from 2 pm to 4 pm and is located at No 1, Spg 24-29, Jln Panglima in Kuala Belait.