The e-Waste Association of South Africa (eWASA) was established in 2008 to manage the establishment of a sustainable environmentally sound e-waste management system for the country.
Since then the non-profit organisation has been working with manufactures, vendors and distributors of electronic and electrical goods and e-waste handlers (including re-furbishers, dismantlers and recyclers) to manage e-waste effectively.
With support from the “Global Knowledge Partnerships in e-Waste Recycling” program, initiated by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and implemented by the Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research (Empa), several projects were initiated successfully in three South African provinces ( namely KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape and Gauteng) as early as in 2004. In addition some (inter)national based IT corporations show increasing commitment in setting up and supporting initiatives nationwide to address the challenge of e-waste (being the fastest growing waste stream in South Africa) from an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) point of view. With eWASA formally established as a non-profit organization and having officially received its mandate to develop integrated e-waste management solutions, we e-waste initiatives and networks continue to grow rapidly to fulfill the current demand for such services.
The widely accepted international definition of e-waste is “anything that runs on electricity”. Therefore e-waste (electronic & electrical waste) includes computers, entertainment electronics, mobile phones, household appliances and less obvious items such as spent fluorescent tubes, batteries and battery-operated toys that have been discarded by their original users. While there is no generally accepted definition of e-waste, in most cases e-waste consists of expensive and more or less durable products used for data processing, telecommunications or entertainment in private households and businesses.
E-waste is both valuable as source for secondary raw material, and toxic if handled and discarded improperly. Rapid technology change, low initial cost and even planned obsolescence have resulted in a fast growing problem of stock-piled and mismanaged around the globe. Technical solutions are available but in most cases a legal framework, a finance model (ideally based on the polluter pays principle) a collection system, logistics and other services need to be implemented before a technical solution can be applied.
Due to lower environmental standards and working conditions in China and India, e-waste is being sent to these countries for processing – in most cases illegally (see www.ban.org). Bangalore in India and the Guiyu area in the Chaozhou region of China have e-waste processing areas. Uncontrolled burning and disposal are causing environmental problems due to the methods of processing the waste. Trans-boundary trade in e-waste between countries is controlled by the Basel Convention.
E-waste is of concern largely due to the toxicity of some of the substances if processed improperly. The toxicity is due in part to lead, mercury, cadmium and a number of other substances. A typical computer monitor may contain more than 6% lead by weight. Up to thirty-six separate chemical elements are incorporated into e-waste items. It presents difficulties for recycling due to the complexity of each item and lack of viable recycling systems. Many of the plastics used in electronic equipment contain flame retardants. These are generally halogens added to the plastic resin, making the plastics difficult to recycle.
¥ Responsibility:Manufacturers/importers need to commit to the recycling of their products and ensure that the recycling solution operates smoothly.
¥ Simplicity: Consumers, traders, manufacturers and recyclers, must easily understand and implement e-Waste recycling.
¥ Reliability. Crucial steps in the recycling chain require independent, trustworthy control.
¥ Liquidity. If the market value of the recycled material can’t pay for the process, additional funds have to be introduced, such as the visible Advanced Recycling Fee (ARF) on new equipment that allows for their return of all goods free of charge.
¥ Management of e-waste recycling system on behalf of Industry
¥ Management of ARF funds, data clearance and controlling
¥ Quality control through independent technical experts and auditors (TK-SENS)
¥ Public Relations
As industry association, eWASA works closely with all levels of government and have portioned itself as experts in the field of e-waste management. Both the Department of Environment (DEA) and Trade and Industry (DTI) agree that eWASA is ideally placed to manage the e-waste Take back system under the Extended Producer Responsibility requirement in the National Waste Act.
eWASA can at request of the Minister and industry prepare an integrated industry waste management plan for the industry ensuring that we can manage this waste stream effectively through an industry initiative while retaining control of the funds raised through a recycling fee to apply it effectively toward developing the e-waste management system.
Corporate and government clients need to ensure safe disposal of their equipment under the ISO 14000 requirement. As eWASA member, you can offer this service to your clients through our approved e-waste handler network.