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E-scrap lab launched by top researchers in Singapore and France

E-scrap generated in Singapore currently exceeds 60 000 tonnes every year, according to the National Environment Agency of Singapore. An estimated 6% is recycled via authorised parties. In France, recyclers process around 455 000 tonnes of e-scrap annually, thus managing a recycling rate of 33%. Both nations want to do better in the coming years and have joined forces to make this happen.

Nanyang Technological University in Singapore has partnered-up with the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission to develop more advanced and energy-efficient solutions when it comes to e-scrap recycling.  

E-scrap is a quickly growing waste stream in Singapore; recent data revealed that large household appliances like washing machines (32%), refrigerators (27%) and Televisions (22%) accounted for the bulk of Singapore’s e-scrap. Computers and mobile phones made up 2% and 1% of the waste stream respectively. This amounts to 11kg worth of e-scrap generated per person every year.

Multi-million funding

That signals an important reason why the university and energy commission were eager to also join forces with the National Environment Agency of Singapore. Together, they have set up the Singapore CEA Alliance for Research in Circular Economy (SCARCE). The three organisations are committing US$ 14.5 million (EUR 12.5 million) to what they refer to as a Joint Laboratory mission.

Its work is meant to enhance the recycling and reuse of lithium-ion batteries, as well as printed circuit boards and solar panels. Furthermore, researchers will examine the toxicity of e-scrap plastics. The material will be treated with organic solvents and bacteria and fungi species will be used to extract the metals.

SCARCE is the first project that has received funding – of no less than US$ 33million dollars / EUR 37.8 million – from NEA’s Closing The Waste Loop research funding initiative.

World-renowned expertise

The CEA chairman Dr. François Jacq points out that the CEA has been collaborating with NTU since 2012 on material science. ‘More than fifteen of our top researchers will make extended stays in Singapore to strengthen this collaboration and leveraging on the CEA’s world-renowned expertise and technologies in material recycling and waste management,’ he comments.

‘This joined laboratory is our first one implemented abroad,’ Jacq notes. ‘Together with NTU we will address solutions to e-waste management challenges with the perspective of translating our R&D and innovation into high value-added industrial products and processes.’

‘Technology is a key enabler to closing our waste loop, and we hope that this collaboration will yield fruitful outcomes, as we continue efforts to reduce our carbon footprint and minimise environmental impact while recovering value from waste,’ comments Ronnie Tay, ceo of NEA.

Strong connection

The partnership between Singapore and France was formalised last weekend to coincide with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s visit to France at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron to be a Guest of Honour at the French National Day parade on July 14. This visit was meant to celebrate the 2018 France-Singapore Year of Innovation.

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong meets with French President Emmanuel Macron.

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