Several African countries have already taken steps to deal with the continent’s e-waste dumping situation and are tapping into the economic gains associated with responsible e-waste collection and treatment.
Ruben Janse van Rensburg, environmental manager at HP Africa, believes many African countries are leaving South Africa behind in the race to extract valuable metal resources from e-waste, while reducing their climate footprint, providing jobs and growing their GDPs. “Kenya is the most advanced [African country] and will shortly have a regulation in place that will further unlock this new green industry sector…. Operations on the ground have already provided […] one job per one tonne of e-waste collected and treated.”
Janse van Rensburg believes that the collection and treatment of e-waste material with little or no value is the biggest challenge. e-Waste Association of SA (eWASA) Managing Director Ulze van Wyk identifies logistics cost, such as the fuel and toll fees, as challenges in dealing with e-waste. Costs are too high and the distances to cover are vast.
Van Wyktold ITWeb that some companies and individuals will compromise the law and environment to make a quick buck. “Our major challenge is that when companies store or deliver new PCs, laptops, cellphones and other devices, they don’t need special trucks or warehouse permits with hazardous signs on them to deliver; but if we collect these same items from companies, as part of the disposal, we need special licences to store and deliver the same product.”
Janse van Rensburg says that although the laws are in place, in general, they are too high level for all waste streams.