Giving e-waste a second chance
BEFORE YOU go out and buy your next smartphone, let me ask a few questions: How frequently do you change your smartphones, laptops or digital media players? Do you still keep your old electronic stuff? If not, how do you usually throw them away?
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency report, industries in Malaysia alone produce 78,278 tonnes of e-waste per year.
Some may think that e-waste is harmless to the environment, people and animals once it’s in a landfill, but electronic products can break, exposing all sorts of harmful chemicals and metals known to cause serious health conditions such as cancer, impaired cognitive function, and damaged organs.
The Department of Environment Malaysia defines e-waste under code SW110 as “any waste falling within the categories of waste listed within the categories of waste listed in the First Schedules of the Environment Quality (Scheduled Wastes) Regulations 2005.”
Electrical and electronic assemblies contain components such as accumulators, mercury-switches, glass from cathode ray tubes, or contaminated with mercury, lead, cadmium, chromium and copper.
Cathode ray tubes, typically used in televisions, computer monitors, ATM machines, and cameras contain lead, barium, and other heavy metals that might leach into the groundwater and release toxic phosphor.
When computer monitors and other electronics are burned they create cancer-producing dioxins which are released into the air that we breathe.
On May 11th, the AIESEC (International Association of Students in Economic and Commercial Sciences) members of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) organised an e-waste recycling campaign, ‘TechCycle Tech4ALL’ to spread awareness among the Kuching public about the importance of proper e-waste management.
Throughout the whole month of May, the AIESEC members set up booths in various locations such as CityOne (May 9-11), OneJaya (May17-18), Lodge International School (May 20) and their final stop, Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak (May 28-30) where they encouraged people to donate their old and unused electronic items such as laptops, mobile phones, chargers and digital cameras which would then be handed over to SOLS Tech, a Microsoft Registered Refurbisher based in Kuala Lumpur.
As a Microsoft Registered Refurbisher, SOLS Tech ensures that all data on the donated items will be erased before refurbishing them up to professional standards and install genuine, licensed Microsoft software. The electronic gadgets refurbished by SOLS Tech will then be donated to NGOs, orphanages and other support systems.
Items broken beyond repair will be salvaged for parts and used in SOLS Tech free IT educational instruction courses to teach computer architecture.
Upon returning to her hometown in India this weekend, Yule Shankar, 22, an AIESEC member from Bhubaneswar, India hopes to initiate an e-waste campaign after her experience in Kuching.
“India is one of the most populated countries in the world and it has a lot of e-waste, so I think that it is important that people are aware of this problem and be more exposed to proper e-waste management,” she said.
Furthermore she added that the level of awareness here in Kuching had not reached a satisfactory level yet and she thinks that it is vital for schools and institutions to start educating the youth on the importance of e-waste management to prevent heavy metals and various hazardous chemicals from being a threat to the environment.
Asides from Kuching, AIESEC team from Curtin University, Miri had also launched an e-waste awareness campaign from February to April this year.
This coming July, the AIESEC team from UNIMAS will start another e-waste management campaign continue raising awareness on proper e-waste management in Kuching and in the hopes that Kuching residents will come and recycle old electronic items.
So, what can you do to help create awareness?
1. Spread the news about e-waste awareness to those around you.
2. Take your e-waste to the nearest e-waste recycling center.
3. No idea where the recycling centre is? No sweat, just drop your old, unused electronic gadgets in a recycling box located at A Gan Tea in CityOne provided by the AIESEC team. The recycling box will be there until August.
So, do your part in saving the environment by donating your old computers, phones and digital devices, because for all you know, your good deed helping the less fortunate could create a huge positive impact on society in the long-term.
To know more about SOLS Tech, visit their website at: www.solstech.org or their facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/SOLSTech