Durban — There’s sure to be new “e-quipment” under the tree or in a Christmas stocking this weekend while the old gathers dust, wasting valuable resources and becoming hazards.
South Africans hoard ancient electronics, such as old cellphones, TVs and laptops, along with fridges, cookers and battery-operated toys.
The country’s E-Waste Recycling Authority (ERA) has called on South Africans to declutter their homes and drop off their electronic waste (e-waste) for recycling or repair, saying that while it was common to recycle glass, paper, tin and plastic, most people had no idea what to do with e-waste.
ERA chief executive Ashley du Plooy said this was the most complex waste to manage and process because the components used in their production, such as lead and mercury and even other materials like wires and plastics, could be toxic.
“For a recent campaign ERA ran for International E-waste Day, more than 130 tons of e-waste was collected in one weekend.
“The kind of items that were unearthed was very revealing as to how long people have been hoarding e-waste – we saw everything from unwanted refrigerators to washing machines, rusting cookers, old printers and big old broken box TVs,” said Du Plooy.
In South Africa, only 10% of all waste was currently recycled, she said. And household waste was expected to increase by 25% over the festive season. In addition, almost all urban areas were running out of approved or licensed space at landfill sites.
E-waste, said ERA, was the fastest growing waste category in the world and recycling it was better for the environment, helped create jobs, and meant that reusable valuable materials – like copper, glass and plastics in Christmas lights – were not wasted.
“The holidays present an opportunity for South Africans to declutter the electronic waste that has been piling up in homes. Our e-waste drop off points are at Makros nationwide and are open during store operating hours, which excludes Christmas Day and New Year’s Day,” said Du Plooy.
Electronic waste included broken household appliances like refrigerators and washing machines, battery-powered toys, Christmas lights, old cellphones, laptops and desktop computers and hard drives.
Independent on Saturday