Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) have launched a S$20 million (US$14.7 million) research centre that aims to develop greener ways of recycling electronic waste. One of the goals is to safely extract some of the valuable metals used in high-tech devices such as smartphones and make them reusable.
This e-waste recycling centre, called NTU Singapore-CEA Alliance for Research in Circular Economy, is considered to be the first of its kind in the world. Singapore’s government has identifed e-waste as a major stream of trash that needs to be managed under its “zero waste” masterplan. Singapore intends to implement a mandatory e-waste management system by 2021.
The centre hopes that the majority of the technologies developed here will be scalable within the next three years so that they can partner with the industry for larger-scale applications.
E-waste is a huge issue in Asia, with Singapore generating about 60,000 tonnes of e-waste a year. Countries across Asia are not scoring well on their report card either. A study shows that in 2015, people in Hong Kong generated an average of 21.7kg of e-waste each. Nearer to home, Indonesia topped the production of e-waste in Southeast Asia in 2015, producing 812000 tonnes of e-waste with Vietnam (451000 tonnes) and Malaysia (243000 tonnes) following behind.