Six months have passed since the Pilot Project for collecting e-waste in Penang Island was started on June 2nd, 2012. A workshop for sharing the progress of the Pilot Project and the data accumulated for these six months was held in Penang Island on November 1st, 2012.
The workshop was opened by Dato' Hassan Bin Mat, Director, Department of Environment Penang. He emphasized the importance of the proper management of e-wastes from households.
The next speaker was Mr. Foo Kok Beng, Senior Assistant Environmental Health Officer, of Municipal Council of Penang Island (MPPP). He introduced MPPP’s plan to upgrade their original e-waste collection system initiated in 2004 through the collaboration with DELL and PEWOG (Penang Environment Working Group). MPPP is starting a new e-waste collection system for all types of e-waste, while MPPP only collects personal computers under the original system started in 2004.
Also, he showed MPPP’s will to continue with the Pilot Project on their own with DOE Penang even after the E-waste Penang Project coordinated by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), noting that the Project is ending next March.
Dato' Dr. Ong Hean Tee, Chairperson of PEWOG invited by Mr. Foo Kok Beng, promised to support MPPP by emphasizing the importance of a round-table meeting among all stakeholders.
Mr. Hideki Wada, JICA Expert of Penang E-waste Project, reported that the Pilot Project is going well so far by introducing some results of the data analysis. The cooperation rate of people is rather low: 10-20% for home electric appliances and 30% for mobile phones, due to the low awareness among the people. If the Pilot Project gains recognition by 100% of the people, the expected cooperation rates would go up to 20-40% for home electric appliances and to 60% for mobile phones, where the present recognition rate among the people is around 40%. The estimation will be updated with the future data of collected e-wastes.
By using these data, the “Willingness to be paid” model were developed and introduced as a practical planning tool. These formulas can tell us about appropriate prices of e-wastes so as to attain a certain cooperation rate, assuming that the major factor defining people’s discarding behaviors is “price”. If the price cannot be covered by the price shown by the full recovery facility, the gap might be borne by the social cost by introducing a new mechanism.
The workshop proceeded to the questions and discussions part after expectations for the Pilot Project were stated from the official supporters and the local participating retailers.
The participants mainly discussed two things. One was about who shall bear the social cost, and the other was about further necessary actions for proper e-waste management.
About the social cost allocation, a participant proposed that consumers can bear the cost if it is included in the prices of e-products, even though any subsidization from governmental sectors may be effective as a short-term measures. Mr. Wada showed his concern that any subsidization from the governmental agencies might spoil the market mechanism.
About the further necessary actions, involvement of the informal sector and regulation on import/export were pointed out.
The workshop was closed by the words of Mr. Wada: “The Pilot Project is just a baby. Please bring up this baby by your cooperation.”