HP South Africa and the e-Waste Association of South Africa (eWASA) have signed a memorandum of understanding – similar to those in Europe – to establish an environmentally responsible e-waste management system for South Africa.
Through this collaboration, both parties are to establish a proper Take Back structure for retired IT products in South Africa, which follows the principle of "Shared Individual Manufacturer Responsibility" – that every party involved in manufacturing, selling, distributing and using IT products has responsibilities for the products at end of life.
The structure of this arrangement already exists in many European countries such as Austria, Ireland and Germany.
There are two stages in the system: the first step is to establish an independent Clearing House responsible for setting the rules for producer e-waste obligation – all producers need to join this Clearing House. The second step, a "Take Back Scheme" (TBS), is chosen and contracted by each producer to collect and properly treat retired electronic products.
Producers may finance this activity in one of two ways: the first being “pay as you recycle” where the producer pays for the amount of e-waste actually collected and recycled; and the second, referred to as “advance recycling fee (ARF)” whereby a producer will pay an ongoing upfront fee based on the number of hardware units sold (irrespective of the amount recycled).
“HP SA wants to ensure that all end of life IT products are processed and recycled in a manner that reduces the overall environmental impact and uses stringent global standards resulting in an improved landfill diversion rate,” says Ruben Janse van Rensburg, HP SA environmental business lead.
“This collaboration with eWASA will form a take back system to cater for consumers’ recycling needs," he says. "Commercial take back services by HP SA direct to their business customers, will be available shortly.”
e-Waste is of concern largely due to the toxicity of some of the substances if processed improperly. Up to 36 separate chemical elements can be incorporated into e-waste items. This presents difficulties for recycling due to the complexity of each item and lack of viable recycling systems.
“eWASA guarantees that all equipment is recycled in an environmentally responsible way and ensures that the re-usable substances are recovered,” says Keith Anderson, chairman of eWASA. Anderson says that HP has extensive experience in the take back and treatment of IT e-waste in Europe, Asia and the US and believes that the knowledge and experience that can be brought to the recycling front in SA will be beneficial to the operations of a local e-waste management system.
HP and eWASA have previously worked in alliance while supporting a pilot project in Maitland, Cape Town, where an e-waste Material recycling Facility has successfully been set-up.
“Organisations should take more responsibility when approving and implementing recycling initiatives and need to be aware of what type of recycling plants and processes are being used to discard the collected waste.” says Janse van Rensburg.
The widely accepted international definition of e-waste is “anything that runs on electricity”. Therefore e-waste (electronic & electrical waste) includes computers, TVs, 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.