The Ministry of Environment is partnering with a private company to organise the safe collection of electrical waste, or e-waste. The new project comes as the ministry’s pilot battery collection scheme reaches the one year mark. Battery disposal bins have been placed in gas stations, factories and schools.

Battery and e-waste are considered hazardous. When disposed of improperly, they have negative impacts on the health of people and the environment, through the release of the dangerous substances they contain.

To prevent this, the environment ministry, in collaboration with Ecobatt Energy Cambodia, is preparing to begin the collection of e-waste across the Kingdom.

Sophal Laska, director of the Hazardous Substances Management Department of the ministry’s General Department of Environmental Protection, told The Post that the ministry will pilot the project by collecting e-waste from offices and public and private institutions.

“As we know, Cambodia does not currently have an e-waste processing plant. Minister of Environment Say Sam Al is very concerned about this lack, and is urging investment in this area,” he said.

“This is why we have partnered with Ecobatt Energy Cambodia to trial e-waste collection in the Kingdom,” he added.

The processing of this kind of waste has the potential to become an economic success story, as well as an environmental one, he said, although current processing facilities do not have the required capabilities.

The ministry will issue notification letters to several target institutions in the near future. E-waste will be added to household garbage collection services in the second phase of the trial, he added, acknowledging that many homes generate considerable amounts of e-waste.

“For example, in homes, people have computers, washing machines and refrigerators. When they break down, they generally sell them to scrap merchants or leave them outside for the scavengers to collect. Unfortunately, when they are dismantled, it is often done in ways which are unsound from an environmental point of view. Many of these kinds of goods contain heavy metals, which are dangerous,” he said.

Laska explained that the correct storage of e-waste was crucial. If it was mixed with regular household waste, it could have serious detrimental effects on the environment.

He was optimistic that Ecobatt, which has received the support of the ministry to collect e-waste, will eventually be able to implement a domestic recycling plant.

“Normally we seek out local investment, because we want to support the economy of the Kingdom. In this case, Ecobatt , an Australian company, expressed an interest. As they are investors, they will need to ascertain the quantity of e-waste which is collected, and thus determine the viability of building a processing plant here. If it is not economically feasible, we will export the waste,” he said.

The pilot battery collection project has collected almost one tonne of disposed batteries from nearly 100 locations across the country.