Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 24 February 2010
In a landmark report released by UNEP (22 Feb 2010) South Africa and China were cited as examples where, by 2020, e-waste from old computers will have jumped by 200 to 400 percent from 2007 levels, and by 500% in India.
Issued at a meeting of Basel Convention and other world chemical authorities prior to UNEP’s Governing Council meeting in Bali, Indonesia, the report, “Recycling – from E-Waste to Resources,” used data from 11 representative developing countries to estimate current and future e-waste generation – which includes old and dilapidated desk and laptop computers, printers, mobile phones, pagers, digital photo and music devices, refrigerators, toys and televisions.
Many developing countries face the spectre of hazardous e-waste mountains with serious consequences for the environment and public health unless action is stepped up to properly collect and recycle materials.
According to UNEP, SA does not have any dedicated legislation dealing with e-waste. The report only identifies laws which have a bearing on e-waste, in broader topics like the environment, water, air, waste, hazardous substances, and health and safety. “Answers are certainly found in each of these; however, they examine the issue from a different perspective, thereby confusing the problem,” it points out.
UNEP also states that enforcement of these laws is done by different government departments, so there’s no uniform approach in dealing with e-waste or hazardous waste in general.
“Some by-laws at the municipal level have a potentially negative impact on recycling or collection activities in so far as hazardous waste, storage, collection and transport are concerned,” the organisation says. “It is debatable to what extent e-waste should be treated – in terms of collection, storage and transport – and this poses a possible difficulty for e-waste recyclers,” UNEP says.
The organisation adds there is often rivalry and lack of cooperation at national and provincial level, since both share constitutional power on pollution.