Waste electronics dumped in Penang

GEORGES CITY: An environmental nightmare unfolds in Penang – a nightmare that can pose an immediate health risk.

The state has become a dumping ground for electronic waste, or e-waste.

State Executive Councilor Phee Boon Poh said that just like plastic waste, e-waste is imported. He believes that thousands of shipments of this waste have arrived in Penang, but very few of them are recycled.

“The rest are just sent to landfills in isolated areas of the state,” he said. the sun.

Most of the waste is toxic.

He said importers have successfully brought the waste into the country through fraudulent and corrupt practices.

“The documents are forged to disguise (waste) and such illegal activities escape authorities such as the Customs Department and the Department of the Environment (DoE). “

He said computer motherboards are broken and repackaged and declared as scrap for recycling factories.

“However, our recycling plants cannot cope with such waste, so most end up being dumped illegally in isolated places.”

Among the electronic waste that has emerged are televisions, VCRs, stereos, copiers, fax machines and electronic gadgets from Europe, Australia and the United States.

Recycling electronic waste is big business. It is worth US $ 5 billion (RM20.7 billion) a year in the United States alone, according to the Washington-based Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, representing more than 1,300 companies that sell scrap metal products. .

Unlike plastic waste, electronic waste contains elements that are harmful to health, such as cadmium, chromium, mercury and lead, among others.

Overexposure to cadmium causes kidney dysfunction while mercury can cause neurological problems. Exposure to lead causes brain damage.

DoE data shows that over 700,000 tonnes of e-waste was generated by households in Malaysia in 2010. This figure is expected to rise to 1.1 million tonnes next year.

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