Eyes on PolyU

Turning e-waste into resources

About 70,000 tonnes of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) are generated in Hong Kong annually*, and the situation is truly undesirable. To cope with this and to motivate all members of the society on becoming more ‘eco-responsible’, the Government’s Producer Responsibility Scheme on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (in short, WPRS) came into effect on 1 August 2018. Under such scheme, sellers of regulated electrical and electronic Equipment (REE) – inclusive of air-conditioners, refrigerators, washing machines, televisions, computers, printers, scanners and monitors – are required to arrange free statutory removal service for customers who purchase a new item of REE. The operator of the Government’s WEEE Treatment and Recycling Facility (WEEE‧PARK) will collect the waste equipment three working days after receipt of the service request from the sellers. Upon reaching the WEEE·PARK, the regulated WEEE will be examined and turned into valuable secondary raw materials through a series of detoxification, dismantling and recycling processes. 

To facilitate a smooth exchange of the latest information on this new scheme, the Campus Sustainability Office invited a representative from the Government to meet the staff members involved in the acquisition and disposal of REE items. Dr Alain Lam, Principal Environmental Protection Officer (Waste Management Policy) paid a visit to the University and had some productive conversation with attendees on how the scheme implemented and explained on its operational flow. He also invited the attendees to help spread the word to others and to support this Scheme.

Meet on the Producer Responsibility Scheme on WEEE Dr Alain Lam elaborates on the Scheme

This meeting moderated a fruitful discussion and provided some food for thought. We have been so used to get new replacements when our electrical and electronic equipment goes wrong, and we tend to turn a blind eye to the fact that electrical and electronic waste can be hazardous if not properly treated. E-waste, if taken to the landfills, can generate dangerous substances to pollute the air, ground, and waters. Alternatively, such waste can be carefully recycled and be used in manufacturing other products, which in turn helps in conserving resources and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The benefits of WEEE recycling are manifold, and it requires the shared responsibility and concerted efforts by all parties, including suppliers and sellers of the products, as well as consumers.

 

* Information from the Environmental Protection Department, Proper Recycling of Regulated Electrical Equipment, Turning Waste into Resources, available: https://weee.gov.hk/page.php?id=1.php&content=1&lang=1

 


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