Tuesday, January 27, 2009

eWaste recycling in South Africa

eWaste is a particularly difficult issue to deal with as it contains many different materials and lots of extremely hazardous substances. Incorrect disposal of electronic items can result in many of those dangerous chemicals entering into our environment through water systems and air pollution.

eWASA, the eWaste Association of South Africa, is an organisation concerned with the handling of eWaste and represents the various industry stakeholders (like eWaste recyclers and disposers). Their website provides useful information about where to recycle your eWaste and how the eWaste recycling process works. They also have a really fascinating (and distrubing) list of hazardous substances and what items those substances are contained in. I recommend that everybody read that list (compulsory reading for engineers and product developers).

Refurbishing, reuse and extending the life–cycle of electronic products is an important (and preferable) way to reduce eWaste and the hazards associated with recycling and disposing of these products.

eWaste recycling is expensive and the costs are not necessarily covered by the resale of recovered materials. eWASA would like to introduce an advanced recycling fee (ARF) for products which will eventually become a part of the eWaste stream. This fee will be collected by the supplier at the time of sale and used to fund end–of–life recyling. Exactly how the ARF will be collected and distributed is not yet clear. Will certain items, such as CRTs, attract a higher ARF due to greater recycling costs? We will have to wait and see.

South Africa currently has no legal framework which deals specifically with eWaste, and unlike the EU's RoHS directive, we have no laws to govern the materials used in the products that we make. I have been quite surprised in my dealings with manufacturers of printed circuit boards and assembly houses that they even still offer leaded products (because people are still using them). There are many benefits in removing these hazardous substances from your product and any issues with the alternative lead–free options have already been resolved. It is our responsibility as designers to remove these substances from our products. South Africa should introduce legislation to govern the use of hazardous materials so that we can avoid future health crises.

We need more people to be aware of, and start recycling eWaste. Fortunately Makro and Fujitsu–Siemens have partnered together with an eWaste recycler, Desco Electronic Recyclers, and begun providing eWaste collection bins in some of their stores. This will help to create awareness of how to correctly handle and recycle eWaste. eWASA's website has a full list of eWaste collection points in South Africa.

Please design and recycle wisely – it is good for you, me, and our environment.

Photo courtesty of Stephen Bullivant, licensed under a creative commons license.


nightz said...

I am Tyrone i work at desco and i have been going through various sites that have our link. I wanted to bring it to your attention that i have changed a bit of our website and our main page is no longer /home.htm it is just http://www.desco.co.za
Please can you update your link :) and have a great day.

Duncan Drennan said...

Hi Tyrone,

Done :)


Anonymous said...

informative article!
Check out ECYCLE
they opearte according to the standards of eWASA, RECYCLE E-WASTE and have a FREE COLLECTION SERVICE as well as DROP OFF POINTS in the Western Cape!

recycling said...

Think this is a great idea recyclings here to stay so lets all recycle what we can to help.
If you no longer need it and someone else will get some use out of it then lets recycle it.

Anonymous said...

Are there any E-wast collection poilst in Eastern Cape if not can I start one?
Graham Kenton.

Duncan Drennan said...

Graham, the closest collection points are in PE. Here is a list of the eWaste collection points in the Eastern Cape.

I am sure you could start one, but I have no idea how to do about doing that.

boston ewaste recycling said...

Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more information? It is extremely helpful for me.

Ross said...

Thanks Duncan, I have been growing more and more concerned as I've seen the type of waste that gets dumped at our municipal dumps - I'm glad to see that something proactive is being done about the growing e-waste problem in SA.

Elephant's Eye said...

Remember when South Africa banned free plastic bags. And began to charge us, which was going to fund recycling. Now we quietly creep back to free bags. What happened to the funds collected for recycling?
We continue to collect everything recyclable and take it to the depot at Killarney Gardens in CPT. I think they accept e-waste there too.

Shredding San Antonio said...

True enough recycling electronic things are hard for they have to be sorted in order to be recycled properly. South Africa is not the only place where this problem is present. There are always ways on how to do it. They will be able to solve this problem with strict laws.

Machining Tools said...

I just visited a glass sculptor this week, here in New Zealand, who makes great things out of old computer monitors and TV screens. I thought that was a clever recycling idea.

Dave the hazwoper 40 Expert said...

I wish the US had programs like this.

I know the costs typically are not covered my the reselling/reuse of the items turned in, but you have to also factor in the cost of people randomly dumping these items in dumpsters, empty fields or even their regular garbage pick up.

Techused Electronics Recycling said...

There are a number of better ways they can do that and the better ways are more profitable as well. the only reason to mishandle electronic waste isn't just greed, it's greed + ignorance

craig weber said...

Hi Duncan i run an e-waste company in Durban so if anyone needs to learn more they should feel free to contact me.I currently collect from 120 corporates in and around the cbd.Craig 0725388443

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