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M'sian companies discover gold in toxic waste

Publication Date : 24-01-2014


More companies in Malaysia are discovering that there is actually gold in toxic waste, and are now extracting the valuable stuff from things that used to be discarded as trash.

Department of Environment (DOE) director-general Halimah Hassan said there are 153 facilities in Malaysia which are licensed to recover reusable material, including gold and other precious metals, from e-waste which are classified as scheduled waste.

She said e-waste typically comes from electrical or electronic components from old computers, cellphones and televisions which posed an environmental and health hazard if not discarded properly.

“Rather than primary mining, these companies are recovering these valuable resources from what used to be thrown away,” said Halimah after launching DOE’s guidelines for packaging, labelling and storage of scheduled waste in Malaysia at a hotel here.

She said the approach was a step in the right direction because of the diminishing capacity of landfills where such waste can be discarded safely. Last year, Malaysia generated 78,278 tonnes of e-waste.

Halimah also pointed out the management of scheduled waste in Malaysia had evolved from the concept of cradle-to-grave, where the materials were just discarded, to cradle-to-cradle, where waste is reused as raw material.

She said DOE encouraged and supported companies seeking to recycle scheduled waste into direct reuse material, provided they fulfil all criteria and used proven technology.

Halimah pointed out that in 2012, 600,672 tonnes (35.15%) of scheduled waste were recovered for direct reuse while an additional 1.145 million tonnes (40.14%) were partially recovered before being properly disposed.

This is a tremendous achievement, said DOE’s hazardous substance division director Paduka Che Asmah Ibrahim, who added that only 25% of scheduled waste now end up in special landfills for toxic waste.


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