Theres’ money to be made from old, unwanted printed circuit board (PCB) in mobile phones, according to a leading electronic waste (e-waste) recycler.
TES-AMM (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd deputy managing director John Ashok said the circuit boards had a small amount of gold along with other metals like silver, copper, pladium and platinum.
“However, it takes between 50,000 and 60,000 mobiles phone PCBs to make 1kg of 99.99% pure gold, which are sold to industrial buyers,” he said in an interview at the facility in Seberang Prai.
TES-AMM collected about 509 tonnes of e-waste last year, about one third of its recycling capacity. The items include computers, monitors, televisions and industrial machinery.
Ashok, however, said handphones accounted for only a small percentage of end of shelf life, surplus and obsolete electronics processed at the factory.
He said Malaysians were less savvy in electronics recycling compared to developed countries like Japan and Korea.
“It’s the mentality,” he said, adding people expected to get something in return since they had paid hundreds if not thousands of ringgit for their cell phones.
“What they did not realize is that the mobile phones are no longer working or in use,” he said.
Ashok added that everyone had a part to play in conserving nature, and this included turning in electronic items that were no longer needed.
He said it was important for the public to understand that it costs money to get rid of waste properly.
“Income generated from the precious metals extracted allows us to dispose of the electronic waste in a safe manner, which means a cleaner environment for everyone,” he said.
“It’s easy to just focus on the gold ingots that we are making. The fact is it cost millions to set up proper recycling facilities and run it according to environmental standards,” he said.
Ashok stressed that there were many stages involved such as collection, weighing, separating, dismantling, crushing, chemical processing and smelting.
“We even had to pay to ensure the sludge or end product of the recycling process is disposed of properly without posing environmental hazards,” he said.
Nokia’s South-East Asia and Pacific sustainability manager Tan Mei Ling, whose company is partnering TES-AMM in electronic recycling, said Malaysians have room for improvement in this area.
“Only 3% of people recycle their mobile phones globally according to our latest survey. In Malaysia, the percentage is even lesser,” she said.
She added that Nokia had the most convenient system for voluntary recycling, with over 5,000 centres globally in 85 countries.
“There are 16 Nokia care centres in Malaysia located in high traffic volume areas like shopping malls. It’s really easy for consumers to hand in their old mobile phones for recycling.
“Our global consumer survey reveals that 44% of old mobile phones are lying in drawers at home and not being recycled,” she said.
Tan said there was currently an estimated 4.6 billion mobile phones in the world, which if recycled, would yield the equivalent of about 370,000 tonne of raw materials or carbon emissions of over six million cars.
“Energy and resources equivalent to carbon emissions of six million cars are needed to mine and manufacture that amount of raw materials,” she said.
She said public response had been encouraging since Nokia introduced mobile phone recycling initiatives to Malaysia and Singapore in 2000
“The public can do even more, and we hope they will,” she added.
starmetro/friday/1 Oktober 2010
starmetro/friday/1 Oktober 2010