PENCINTA ALAM MARCH 2015
GREEN LIVING COLUMN
MNS Green Living teams up with TEEAM to collect e-waste and fluorescent lights.
(By Wong Ee Lynn, firstname.lastname@example.org)
MNS Green Living is pleased to report that our MNS Headquarters in Jalan Kelantan now has electronic waste (e-waste) and compact fluorescent light (CFL)/ fluorescent light (FL) collection bins, thanks to the assistance of The Electrical and Electronics Association of Malaysia (TEEAM). These bins are placed by the door to the MNS office, beside the Green Living Little Free Library, to enable members of the public to correctly dispose of their light bulbs, fluorescent light tubes and other electronic waste (e.g. batteries, unwanted appliances and gadgets) for recycling and safe disposal.
This initiative by TEEAM, a non-profit volunteer-based trade association, is made possible thanks to the UNDP-implemented GEF Small Grants Programme. However, Green Living strongly believes that the collection, recycling and safe disposal of hazardous wastes falls within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government and alternatively, the Ministry for Natural Resources and the Environment, and should not be made the responsibility of non-governmental organisations.
Representatives from TEEAM set up the bins and delivered an awareness talk at the MNS HQ on 7th Feb 2015. The eye-opening video presentation was followed by a lively discussion session. We would like to put on record our utmost appreciation to Dr. S.O. Lai and Ms. Thila of TEEAM for their tireless efforts in raising environmental awareness and facilitating the collection of e-waste.
To contact TEEAM, please email email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org.
FACTS ON E-WASTE AND CFLs / FLs:
1. In Malaysia, used and discarded electrical and electronic appliances and components (including batteries) are commonly known as 'e-waste' and are categorised as scheduled waste under the code SW110, First Schedule, Environmental Quality (Scheduled Wastes) Regulations 2005 under the Environmental Quality Act 1974.
2. The SW110 wastes are defined as wastes from the electrical and electronic assemblies containing components such as accumulators, mercury switches, glass from cathode ray tubes and other activated glass or polychlorinated biphenyl-capacitators, or contaminated with cadmium, mercury, lead, nickel, chromium, copper, lithium, silver, manganese, or polychlorinated biphenyls.
3. If e-waste is disposed of in landfills, the opportunities to recover and recycle the metal, plastic or glass components would be lost. Further, hazardous metals and materials can leach out and contaminate soil, water and air.
4. In Peninsular Malaysia, all scheduled wastes, including e-waste, lightbulbs and light tubes, are collected for safe disposal and recycling by Kualiti Alam Sdn Bhd, a waste management and renewable energy development company.
5. CFLs and FLs are an energy-efficient alternative to incandescent lamps for the following reasons:
- Three to four times more energy-efficient.
- They cost less to use.
- They reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution from energy production.
- They last up to ten times longer than standard incandescent light bulbs.
5. However, CFLs contain, on average 3 – 4 mg of mercury a unit. FL tubes contain, on average, 8.3 mg of mercury per unit.
6. All fluorescent lights and tubes are considered hazardous waste in Malaysia when they are discarded because they contain mercury. Mercury is a heavy metal with toxic effects. Exposure to, and contact with, mercury may lead to mercury poisoning, which can be lethal.
7. When mercury-containing CFLs or FLs are placed in the rubbish bins and collected for disposal, the lamps or tubes are broken and mercury is released to the environment. Mercury vapours from broken lamps or tubes can be absorbed through the lungs into the bloodstream. People who are particularly close to the breakage are especially at risk. Mercury from broken lamps and tubes can also be washed by rain water into waterways.
8. To prevent breaking fluorescent light bulbs and tubes, package fluorescent lamps and tubes carefully when storing and transporting them. Do not tape tubes together. Store and transport fluorescent lamps and tubes in their original boxes or another protective container. Store them in an area away from rain so that if they break, the mercury from broken lamps or tubes will not be washed by rain water into waterways.
9. In the event you accidentally break a fluorescent light or tube, vacate the room immediately and open all doors and windows. The only person(s) who should remain there are person(s) tasked with cleaning up. Do not use a standard household vacuum cleaner to clean up the broken pieces. Only a vacuum cleaner designed specifically for use with hazardous wastes may be used. However, most of us will not have one at hand.
Instead of vacuuming, wear latex gloves and carefully clean up the fragments. Use strips of duct tape or masking tape to pick up the fragments. Wipe the area with a damp sheet of newspaper or paper towel to remove all glass fragments and associated mercury.
Keep all people and pets away from area so that mercury-containing pieces and powder are not tracked into other areas.
Keep the area well ventilated to disperse any vapour that may escape.
After clean up is complete, place all fragments along with cleaning materials into a sealable plastic bag or lidded jar. Wash your hands. Recycle the pieces along with intact lamps if the recycling collection contractor permits it. Label the plastic bag or jar clearly to warn people who may be handling the broken bulbs to prevent injury or other harm to them.
10. When bringing your used CFLs and FLs to a CFL/FL collection bin, put the bulbs into their boxes for recycling. If you have not retained the bulb’s original box, use the box that the new/replacement bulb came in. If you have no bulb boxes at all, wrap the bulb in a sheet of newspaper and put it in a plastic or paper bag to prevent breakage before putting it in the CFL/FL collection bin.