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Generally, exposure to the hazardous components

of e-waste is most likely to arise through inhalation,

ingestion, and skin contact. In addition to direct

occupational (formal or informal) exposure, people can

come into contact with e-waste materials, and associated

pollutants, through contact with contaminated soil,

dust, air, water, and through food sources, including

meat. Children, fetuses, pregnant women, elderly people,

people with disabilities, workers in the informal e-waste

recycling sector, and other vulnerable populations face

additional exposure risks.

Children are a particularly sensitive group because

of additional routes of exposure (e.g. breastfeeding

and placental exposures), high-risk behaviours (e.g.

hand-to-mouth activities in early years and high risk-

taking behaviours in adolescence), and their changing

physiology (e.g. high intakes of air, water, and food, and

low rates of toxin elimination). The children of e-waste

recycling workers also face take-home contamination

from their parents’ clothes and skin and direct high-

level exposure if recycling is taking place in their homes.

Specific chemical elements and compounds are associated

with e-waste, either as components of the equipment or

released during the recycling process.

The most common potentially hazardous chemical

elements that are also components of electrical and

electronic equipment are lead, cadmium, chromium,

mercury, copper, manganese, nickel, arsenic, zinc, iron,

and aluminium.

(Source: Grant K et al. Health consequences of exposure to e-waste:

a systematic review on health effects of e.waste. The Lancet.)

BENEFITS FROM PROPER

E-WASTE MANAGEMENT

According to the Department of Environment (DoE)

Malaysia, we are not isolated from this problem. E-waste

generation has been increasing and is estimated to

increase even more in the future. E-waste generated from

industrial sources such as some semi-finished products,

end material or punching scrap are already regulated by

Environmental Quality Regulations 2005. On the other

hand, e-waste generated from non-industrial sectors

(especially household) such as TVs, air conditioners,

washing machines, refrigerators and among others are

not yet regulated properly under the current regulations.

As a consequence, most of the e-waste end up being

improperly recycled and disposed through informal

channels.

If there are no concerns with intellectual property

rights, e-waste management can be carried out with the

following options in mind:

(a) Reuse. Donate it away should it still be functioning.

(b) Repair or refurbished so that it can still function.

(c) Recover and Reuse of functional components.

(d) Recovery of constituent elements when the

components cannot be reused.

(e) Final disposal of hazardous and non-hazardous

waste at permitted sites approved by Government.

By implementing the above, natural resources are

conserved and the life of e-waste can be extended.

For equipment that are reaching end of life, recycling

recovers valuable materials which can be used in the raw

materials supply chain. These materials can be used back

to manufacture the same product thus promoting an

eco green product or other new products. Thus, energy

consumption, pollution, greenhouse gas emissions are

reduced; global warming is minimised and resources are

saved because fewer materials are mined.

Recycling in an environmentally sound management

facility protects the environment and minimises land

filling. Managing an environmentally sound management

facility requires professional recyclers who use green

technology to produce green product. Also, recycling

creates more job opportunities.

MCMC & INDUSTRY INITIATIVES

MCMC is concerned about the growing number of unused

mobile phones due to rapid technology advances in the

communication and multimedia industry since mobile

broadband was introduced in 2009. MCMC is aware that

these devices contain materials that can be harmful to

the environment and human health if not disposed off

properly. Research by the US Environmental Protection

Agency shows that the average life span of a mobile

phone is around 18-24 months. Furthermore, based on

statistics from SIRIM QAS, there are 65.7 million units

of mobile phones registered before 2014. Thus, it is

estimated that there are more than 65.7 million mobile

phones which can be considered as e-waste; either kept

at home or ended up in landfills.

Other contributing factors to the low lifespan of

mobile phones are planned obsolescence and technology

progression. Planned obsolescence takes place when

manufacturers have a policy of planning or designing a

product with an artificially limited useful life, so it will

become obsolete, that is, unfashionable or no longer

functional after a certain period of time thus shortening

the replacement cycle. Technological progression in the

information age has had and will continue to improve

life for many years to come. The deployment of Machine

to Machine (M2M) and Internet of Things (IoT) are

examples of technology progression that will contribute

to the continuous e-waste production.

MOBILE E-WASTE: ‘OLD PHONE,

NEW LIFE’ PROGRAMME

The idea to promote environmentally safe disposal

of mobile e-waste was first mooted back in 2013 as

a response to Resolution 79 adopted at the World

Telecommunication

Standardisation

Assembly

in

November 2012 (WTSA-12) which invited Member States

to take all necessary measures to handle and control

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