International E-Waste Day is held every year on 14 October and is an opportunity to reflect on the impact of e-waste and the necessary actions needed to improve the circulation of e-products.
This year the City of Town’s main focus for International E-Waste Day was the small electrical devices that we no longer use but keep in drawers and often toss in the general waste bin.
In recognition of this year’s International E-waste Day, the City of Cape Town is encouraging all residents to go through their garages and cupboards and to take any old, broken or obsolete devices to one of the drop-off facilities for proper disposal.
Due to their small size items such as cell phones, electric toothbrushes, toasters and cameras are often discarded incorrectly.
Many initiatives worldwide are undertaken to tackle this growing concern, but none of them can be fully effective without adequately educating consumers.
Improper disposal of these products can create health risks. Electronic products contain several toxic substances.
During salvage by the informal sector (as is common in South Africa), toxic residues can leak and contaminate the soil, air and water. This affects surrounding ecosystems where the local communities grow their food and fish.
The hazardous substances are also spread to other continents through the air and the sea, or they can affect the health of salvagers themselves when devices are burned or dissolved in acid without proper safety equipment to access components of value. If not salvaged, valuable raw materials are lost.
According to the City of Cape Town, residents can see which drop-off sites accept e-waste from a residential source here.
Residents can also find information on private companies that collect or purchase e-waste on the City’s waste recyclers map.
In addition, the City said that residents can make use of the household hazardous waste drop-offs at Athlone and Bellville Refuse Transfer Stations to dispose of up to 50kg of e-waste from a residential source per day.
Businesses also generate a huge amount of electronic waste and often don’t dispose of it correctly. If your business uses or produces e-waste, please take note of the disposal guidelines for e-waste from businesses.
The main e-waste service for businesses in the city is the Western Cape Industrial Symbiosis Programme (WISP). This programme helps businesses to develop symbiotic recycling systems for profitability and sustainability.
The Mayoral Committee Member for Urban Waste Management, Alderman Grant Twigg commented:
“It is crucial that residents are made aware of possible health risks and lost resources when appliances are disposed of incorrectly. Between government and the private sector, a lot of work is being done to make the proper disposal of small e-waste simple and convenient for consumers.”
To learn more about disposing of electronic waste, see eWASA, the e-Waste Association of South Africa: www.ewasa.org/