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  Business Times 11 Oct 07
TES-AMM sees vast potential in China, India markets

By Chuang Peck Ming

Business Times 11 Oct 07
E-waste - sources and environmental issues

Business Times 11 Oct 07
Tapping e-waste business overseas
Chuang Peck Ming

Local recycling players are venturing abroad as demand for their services grows. CHUANG PECK MING looks at their selling points

CHINA is today widely recognised as the factory of the world. Less well known, it is also the world's dumping ground for unwanted electronic gadgets.

And as electronic waste piles up with expanding demand for new gadgets requiring older ones to be discarded, deepening the fear of the harm they can do to the environment, the world is also dumping their waste on the other emerging economic giant - India.

At the same time, both China and India are generating e-waste of their own as more multinational corporations, drawn by cheap labour and a huge market, rush to set up there to make electronic and high-technology items.

'China has generated roughly 1.1 million tonnes of e-waste annually since 2003, including five million TV sets, four million refrigerators, five million washing machines, five million computers and tens of millions of mobile phones,' says Michelle Tan, head of the environmental service division at International Enterprise Singapore.

'A 2002 report from the Basel Action Network and Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition estimates that 80 per cent of the world's hi-tech trash is exported to Asia and 90 per cent of this flow into China,' she says.

Developed nations dump an estimated 500 million tonnes of e-waste yearly - and about 70 per cent of the waste ends up in China, making it the world's largest dumping ground for e-waste.

In India, Toxics Link, a Delhi-based non-governmental organisation, claims that India produces about 1.5 million tonnes of e-waste yearly. Some 70 per cent of the waste collected for recycling in New Delhi alone comes from developed nations.

According to Toxics Link, recycling in India is largely unorganised and working conditions in the recycling sector are 'far from satisfactory'.

The mountains of electronic rubbish in China and India should smell of opportunities for Singapore's waste-management companies, according to Ms Tan.

'Our companies can tap on the abundant sources of e-waste available in China and India, either to ship back to Singapore for recycling, or to recycle in China and India,' she says.

And, as many MNCs are relocating their manufacturing plants to these two emerging giants, they will require recycling services from qualified e-waste recyclers. Singapore's waste-management companies fit the bill.

Coming from a clean and green country that is bent on keeping a balance between preservation of its environment and the demands of a growing metropolitan city, Singapore's waste-management companies possess technologies comparable to those of the global players.

'The unique selling point of our local e-waste players is their credibility in complete destruction of equipment and in ensuring security of intellectual property,' says Ms Tan.

According to her, many of the clients of these companies prefer to carry out mechanical destruction and e-waste recycling in Singapore, rather than in the countries where the waste is generated.

'Singapore's stringent environmental laws and regulations also garner a good reputation among MNCs,' she says.

Ms Tan says there are about nine companies in the recycling business here, offering a full range of services - covering scrap handling, collection, transportation, documentation, base metal recycling and precious metal refining.

'The growth in demand for their services has induced Singapore e-waste companies to venture overseas, with a few of the companies having set up e-waste processing plants in overseas markets such as China and India,' Ms Tan says.

Among them are Cimelia Resource Recovery and TES-AMM.

Cimelia, a wholly owned subsidiary of Enviro-Hub, is planning a joint venture with India's Ramky Enviro Engineers to build and operate a complete e-waste management plant in Hyderabad in India. The plant will have recycling, recovering and refining capabilities.

Along with Ramky, Cimelia will also set up five collection centres initially in Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, New Delhi and Kolkata.

TES is already seen as a model enterprise in China, because of its efforts to advance environmental protection there. Its plant in China, set up in 2005, can handle 20,000 tonnes of e-waste a year.

'It is TES's first full-fledged processing plant outside Singapore, housing mechanical and chemical processing facilities for precious metal recovery business,' Ms Tan says.

Among TES's clients in China are HP, Dell, Nokia, and Motorola and some Japanese MNCs.

Ms Tan says IE Singapore is keen to help Singapore's waste-management companies to explore and break into new markets.

'Our assistance includes continual effort to market their capabilities overseas, link them up with potential clients and partners and organise business missions to various markets, including China and India,' she says.

A mission to China next year is planned, specifically targeting the semiconductor and electronics industry.

Business Times 11 Oct 07
E-waste - sources and environmental issues

What is electronic or e-waste?

Old end-of-life electronic appliances like computers, TVs, DVD players and mobile phones disposed of by original users. In most cases, e-waste items are relatively expensive and essentially lasting products used for data processing, telecommunications or entertainment in households and businesses.

What are the sources of e-waste?

They come from three sources:

# Individuals and small businesses who use gadgets with very high rate of obsolescence because of new technologies.

# Large corporations, institutions and government which upgrade the computers for employees regularly. This often leads to huge amounts of e-waste.

# Original equipment manufacturers like HP and Dell which generate e-waste when units coming off the production line fail to meet quality standards and must be disposed of.

What are the health and environmental concerns?

A wide range of hazardous chemicals is used in components of electrical and electronic devices, which will create huge problems in handling, recycling and disposal. Toxic heavy metals most commonly found are those which have extensive use in the electronics industry, such as lead and tin from solder and batteries, copper from wires and cables, cadmium from batteries and solder joints, and antimony from the use of antimony trioxide as a flame-retardant additive in plastics and resins as well as from use in electrical solders.

What are the methods of disposal for e-waste?

Landfilling is one of the most widely used disposal methods. But it is prone to hazards because of leachate that often contains heavy metals and other toxic substances which can contaminate ground and water resources. Older landfill sites and uncontrolled dumps pose a far greater danger in hazardous emissions.

Incineration also generates and disperses contaminants and toxic substances. Gases released during the burning and the residue ash are often toxic - especially for incineration or co-incineration of e-waste with neither prior treatment nor sophisticated flue gas purification.

Incineration also results in loss of valuable trace elements which could have been recovered had they been sorted and processed separately.

What are the directives and regulations governing e-waste?

The Basel Convention on the control of trans-boundary movement of hazardous wastes and their disposal, in force since 1992, is the only global environment agreement on waste. It has almost 165 government signatories. The agreement regulates trade in hazardous wastes, including waste electrical and electronic. It seeks to ensure they are disposed of safely and the generation of such wastes is minimised.

An amendment to the convention, the Basel Ban, calls for the prohibition of export of hazardous waste from OECD to non-OECD countries. This has yet to come into force.

Which are the Singapore e-waste companies?

CHE Recycling, Cimelia Resource Recovery, Centillion Environmental, ELMS Industrial, HLS Electronics, Ohgitani Kogyo, R2 Japan, SPM Refinery and TES-AMM Singapore.

This article is contributed by International Enterprise Singapore

Business Times 11 Oct 07
TES-AMM sees vast potential in China, India markets

By Chuang Peck Ming

TES-AMM's recycling plant in Shanghai is the place to show off to visitors who want to know how the Chinese city is managing its electronic waste.

The plant is the Singapore-based company's first in China and, says executive director Adrian Tan, is 'widely regarded by the industry as one of the country's leading facilities for e-waste recycling'.

It has been featured by China's CCTV no fewer than three times, including a full documentary, he says. 'And it made it to a TV programme on e-waste management in Japan.'

Also, a global forum on waste recycling in Shanghai next month will include a visit to TES's plant.

Started in September 2005, the Shanghai plant is one of the most modern in China and one of the country's pioneer e-waste facilities. It also serves as TES's regional headquarters in China, where the company has four other facilities - in Beijing, Guangzhou, Suzhou and Hong Kong.

A year after it set up shop in China, TES, which aims to be a one-stop service provider to multinational corporations, moved on to India, where it has a presence in Chennai.

As in China, TES Chennai is capable of mechanical waste processing and has room for warehousing and a logistics base. And as in China, TES also carries out marketing work in Chennai.

The company, formed in 2005, has expanded from just three employees to more than 300. And it already operates in 17 locations. 'TES today is one of the leading e-waste management service provider to MNCs globally, with many Fortune 500 companies among our clients,' says Mr Tan.

Leveraging on its engineering origins, the company says it is capable of providing customised and more comprehensive services than its competitors and has a presence in more places.

Mr Tan says it is attracted to Asia's emerging economic giants of China and India because they are the 'undisputed leading manufacturing floor of the world'.

Cheap inputs, abundant labour and huge waste markets in China and India are also a big draw, he says. 'We expect our operations in these countries to continue to grow in line with the rapid expansion in manufacturing activity there, as well as the increasing awareness and efforts of the Chinese authorities in the area of environmental care.

'E-waste management in these countries has been and still is dominated by primitive cottage-industry type set-ups with very basic and rudimentary pollution control systems. MNCs locating their operations there expect and want a standard of professionalism in e-waste recycling.'

TES's modern recycling methods and processes meet this demand, according to Mr Tan.

Yet despite aggressive marketing, business in China was slow at first. So TES decided to focus on educating potential customers and getting to know the local business environment better.

'This strategy has paid off for us and we are able to differentiate ourselves through our service offering and policy of environmental best practice,' says Mr Tan.

The company has 130 staff in China and 13 in India - and Mr Tan expects to keep expanding for the next five years.

'We identified the Chinese market from the beginning, and development will continue,' he says. 'With India we have developed a sound strategy to penetrate the market. We see an even larger untapped potential e-waste market in India.

'China and India are two of the more important markets TES has embraced to build an economically and environmentally sustainable operation. They have become our priority.'

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