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Electronics manufacturers ‘forget’ to recall or recycle used products

Large electronics manufacturers are still not willing to participate in the collecting and recycling of electronic waste to ensure a good living environment for people.

Under Decree 45/2002 on administrative punishments in the field of environment protection, projects’ developers and owners, boards of management of urban areas, apartment and office buildings will be fined VND200-250 million if they don’t have equipment, tools and locations to classify waste at source, or collect and store domestic solid waste.

One of the most important contents of the decree is the regulation on classification, collection, transport, landfilling, dumping, burning and treatment of solid waste.

The number of technological devices in Vietnam has increased rapidly in recent years, putting pressure on the government. 

The collection of waste products is being done by scrap dealers. A large amount of electronic waste is carried to the outskirts of large cities and rural areas where the waste is manually taken apart.

This e-waste treatment method causes pollution and affects people’s health. The people who directly get involved in recycling and those!who live near e-waste landfills have suffered from various types of cancer.

Under Decision 16/2015/QD-TTg on the collection and treatment of waste products on July 1, 2016, some types of waste products, including discarded batteries, electrics and electronics, lubricants, tubes and tires, were to be recalled and treated.

The recall and treatment of some waste electrical and electronic devices such as lamps, office machines, mobile phones, tablets, DVD players, televisions, refrigerators, air conditioners and washing machines were to be implemented.

Electronics manufacturers have the responsibility of organizing the activities of collecting waste products they sold in the Vietnamese market; and setting up stations that collect waste products. 

They are encouraged to receive  products similar to what they sell in the market, regardless of brands and manufacturers; and receive discarded products collected by other manufacturers for treatment.

Distributors have the responsibility of joining forces with manufacturers to set up e-waste collection points as per the request of manufacturers.

However, despite clear regulations, manufacturers still ‘forget’ their responsibility.

A representative of Vietnam Recycles, an alliance of two leading technology firms HP and Apple that collects and recycles waste for free, said the organization only has two members – HP and Apple. Microsoft once also collected e-waste, but no longer sells phones.

He pointed out a loophole in the legal framework related to e-waste treatment. The current regulations describe electronics manufacturers’ responsibilities in recycling e-waste, but do not clearly set specific levels on the percentage of discarded products as in European countries. As a result, many manufacturers just set up collection centers and the recycling remains below expectations.

European countries, Japan and the US all have regulations that force manufacturers, retailers and importers to pay fees for e-waste collection and treatment. The countries also require electric and electronic imports to restrict the use of hazardous substances such as lead and mercury.

Prior to that, answering VietNamNet’s question about e-waste treatment, Monina de Vera-Jacob from HP Asia Pacific said large electronics manufacturers such as LG and Samsung must take responsibility for collecting and recycling used electronic products in Vietnam.

In many European countries, e-waste collection and recycling has been legalized, which forces manufacturers to take responsibility for their products. The required proportion of products to be recycled is 40 percent, i.e. all manufacturers must observe the regulation that for every 100 products sold, there must be 40 products that can be recycled.

Vietnam Recycles is piloting a model of recycling e-waste with a new method, under which all steps in the e-waste treatment process are carried out at units inside Vietnam. The output of the process is safe products with a maximum amount of resources obtained after recycling.

On November 1, 2021, Vietnam Recycles began applying a new list of products to collect, with focus on products its members are making. The changes aim to agree with amendments of the Law on Environmental Protection.

Vietnam Recycles focuses on collecting mobile phones, tablets, CPUs and laptops, LCD and CRT screens, printing machines, facsimile and scan machines, photocopiers and electronic parts related to information technology.

As for devices that are not products made by members of the alliance, such as batteries, CRT TV and household-use electronics, Vietnam Recycles won’t continue to collect them, because the recall and recycling of the devices belong to manufacturers as stipulated by the Law on Environmental Protection.

Thai Khang

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