HP has launched a local e-waste pilot that aims to create new jobs in disadvantaged communities by equipping people with the relevant training and equipment to dismantle e-waste safely and responsibly.
HP is working together with the Global Digital Solidarity Fund (DSF), the Swiss Institute for Materials Science and Technology (Empa) and Recover-e-Alliance, Wasteplan and the Salesian Institute locally in South Africa to assess the current conditions for electronic recycling and test methods to improve recycling processes and equipment.
The pilot project in Cape Town will represent the main focus of an Africa-wide project to tackle e-waste, which aims to develop a blueprint for e-waste management across the continent. HP, DSF and Empa in cooperation with local organisations are also conducting studies in Kenya and Morocco.
“HP has a responsibility that starts with the design of a product and goes right through to its disposal and we take that responsibility very seriously,“ says Thoko Mokgosi-Mwantembe, MD of HP SA. “We see this project as a way to help develop a sustainable infrastructure to safely deal with electronic waste based on local practices that will benefit local communities. Once fully operational, this pilot project will process up to 150 tonnes of equipment per year and create around 20 jobs.”
The pilot project will concentrate on a low-tech and labour-intensive material dismantling and recovery facility (MRF) in Cape Town. The aim is to maximise the potential for refurbishment, repair and reuse of ICT equipment, with environmentally responsible dismantling and recycling only as a last resort.
The project also seeks to incorporate informal e-waste processing activities that have proved highly effective in dealing with waste, by transforming them into sustainable and environmentally sound operations.
“We have seen some very inventive and entrepreneurial people making a living out of dismantling old electronic equipment in South Africa,’’ says Gerry Newson, Recover-e Alliance. “This equipment is being refurbished to be used by the community and people are making everything from toys to art out of it. We are looking to develop effective methods of dealing with waste that will allow this sector to flourish in a safe and sustainable manner.”