The Journey of Electronic Companions

Are you looking to upgrade to the latest iPhone7, wireless glass keyboard, or GoPro camera? Do you know that when you trash your unwanted or outdated electronic gadgets, you are guilty of producing electronic waste, or, e-waste for short? Whether your electronics are in working order or damaged, they constitute e-waste as long as they are no longer wanted.

Singapore’s National Environment Agency estimates that some 60 million kg of e-waste is generated locally every year. Greenpeace International offers an explanation for this staggering figure: the average lifespan of computers in developed countries has dropped from six years in 1997 to just two years in 2005, while mobile phones have a lifecycle of less than two years in developed countries.

Most e-waste contains small amounts of heavy metals and toxic substances that, if improperly handled, risk toxins like lead and mercury being leached into the environment. Incineration, for instance, could release heavy metals into the air and, in the case of mercury, could end up in the food chain and ultimately affect people’s health.

Retired Sidekicks

While we may lead busy lives, we can still do our part by applying the 3 R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) beyond more common waste such as paper, plastic bottles, and aluminum cans. Most mobile phones, for example, contain precious metals and plastics that can be recycled to save energy and resources.

Since 2008, CapitaLand has made available recycling bins for paper, metal and plastic in all its Singapore properties to encourage its shoppers, serviced residence and office tenants and the general public to pick up the green habit of recycling. In 2015, CapitaLand collected over 3.8 million kg of recyclable waste across its properties in Singapore and overseas.

The group is ramping up efforts to encourage the safe and responsible disposal of their stakeholders’ unwanted electronic items. In Singapore, CapitaLand engaged its office tenants with an e-waste collection drive from 15 August to 31 December 2016 at 8 of its office properties – Capital Tower, CapitaGreen, Six Battery Road, One George Street, Raffles City Tower, Twenty Anson, HSBC Building and Wilkie Edge. In just two and a half months, over 2000 kg of electronic waste has been collected at these office properties.

E-waste recycling bins are now available at 10 CapitaLand malls, making it the largest mall network with such an initiative in Singapore. This scheme follows the strong public response to CapitaLand’s pilot e-waste recycling programme at Funan DigitaLife Mall from May 2014 to June 2016, which had collected over 32,000 kg of e-waste. The idea is to build awareness and make e-waste recycling more accessible to more people.

Mr Ong Soo San, Director of the Waste and Resource Management Department at Singapore’s National Environment Agency (NEA) said: “To reduce waste and conserve resources, NEA encourages the reuse of serviceable items such as by selling them to secondhand traders or giving them away to charity. For items that cannot be reused, consumers are encouraged to deposit them into recycling bins such as those provided by CapitaLand. It is heartening to see companies such as CapitaLand take the initiative to implement programmes to make it more convenient to recycle e-waste, and we urge more businesses to follow their lead.”


Since e-waste consists of various different components and runs the risk of producing toxic emissions that can endanger human lives if handled improperly, the process of e-waste recycling requires a controlled environment for devices to be properly dismantled, sorted and recycled. To ensure our recycling efforts at our malls and office properties are done the right way, CapitaLand is working with R2-certified recycling partners such Cimelia Resource Recovery and TES-AMM in StarHub’s RENEW programme. R2 certification is recognised as the premier global environmental, worker health and safety standard for electronics refurbishing and recycling, and R2-certified recyclers are audited to ensure compliance with certification requirements.

Cimelia, for one, provides closed-loop recycling services to their customers that result in zero waste, utilising pollution-free technologies. E-waste and production scraps generated from producers and/or consumers will be collected by Cimelia, following which, electronic products will be dismantled into their respective components, and stripped down to parts. Raw materials such as metal and plastics will be retrieved and sent to smelting and pelletising plants for the production of new products.

Charged to Serve

As a company that has received ISO14001 certification since 2007 for its environmental management system, CapitaLand has implemented similar initiatives in some of its overseas operations. According to Mr. Tan Seng Chai, Group Chief Corporate Officer of CapitaLand Limited and Chairman of the CapitaLand Sustainability Steering Committee, “Our efforts have also gone beyond Singapore, with our overseas serviced residences offering similar e-waste recycling programmes in Australia and Europe. E-waste collected at these properties is sent to appointed vendors or local collection points for proper processing.”

Indeed, e-waste recycling has become part of the business practices at many of CapitaLand’s serviced residences around the world. Staff at Citadines St. Georges Terrace in Perth, for instance, drop off used batteries at collection points. They are then transported to a resource recovery facility for recycling, forming part of Perth’s Earth Carer Programme, which is managed and funded by the Western Metropolitan Regional Council (WRMC). Citadines on Bourke Melbourne and Somerset on Elizabeth Melbourne appoint vendors to collect and recycle batteries. Printer cartridges are also collected and recycled by inkjet manufacturers, forming part of the “Cartridges 4 Planet Ark” recycling programme in Australia, where manufacturers such as Brother, Canon, and Epson collaborate to take responsibility for the cartridges they produce.

Our Ascott properties in France, Spain and United Kingdom have adopted similar recycling efforts as part of a wider regulatory compliance concerning the management of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE). Under this framework, WEEE generated by 3 million people in France is collected yearly. In Belgium, the Citadines Sainte-Catherine Brussels and Toison d’Or Brussels collect batteries for recycling, and return cartridges to office suppliers.