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Author: Lene Ecroignard and Heidi Cox - eWaste Association of South Africa (eWASA)

( Article Type: Explanation )

E-Waste’ describes all electronic and electrical waste, including computers, televisions, hi-fi ’s, mobile phones, game consoles, etc. and appliances such as refrigerators, stoves, microwave cookers, toasters, washing machines etc. E-waste contains both valuable materials, including: gold, copper, silver, and hazardous substances, such as lead and mercury. Environmentally irresponsible disposal of e-waste can lead to health and environmental problems.
In South Africa, e-waste recycling is a growing industry. The proposed Take-back system that the eWaste Association of South Africa (eWASA) has started to implement utilises a network of registered members that collect, refurbish, dismantle, recycle and send e-waste on for final disposal options. The members’ list is available at The Swiss Global Knowledge Partnerships in e-Waste Recycling was instrumental in helping to create an enabling environment for the legal establishment of eWASA, as a non-profit organisation, in 2008. Since the first humble beginnings of the e-waste initiative in SA, several research reports have been compiled to describe the problem and its possible solutions. These documents are available at

It includes a report by Mark Dittke that outlines the legal landscape for companies working with this waste stream. The Waste Act of 2008 led to the development of regulations that are currently published for comment. These regulations deal specifically with e-waste and its disposal. eWASA has presented a draft Industry waste management plan to its members and other stakeholders and continues to engage government on the subject. The plan is expected to be submitted to the Minister of Environment in the near future.
Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa) helped eWASA to develop Technical Guidelines on Recycling of Electrical and Electronic Equipment for its members.
This document is used to assist a team of independent, trained auditors when auditing the recycling sites on behalf of eWASA. To date only four companies have current, limited accreditation from eWASA. Keith Anderson, Chairman of eWASA, reiterates that while recycling standards in the country continue to improve, none of the local recyclers meets European standards at the moment. The most recent e-waste assessment was completed by Alan Finlay and David Liechti in November 2008. “The assessment estimates that white goods, consumer electronics and IT in South African homes amount to anything between one million and two million tons, most of which is likely to enter the waste stream in the next 5-10 years.” They made mention that there is a large amount of e-waste in storage within Governmental, corporate and domestic sectors because much e.waste is put into storage rather than put into the normal waste stream. Sometimes this is because of perceived value of the items and sometimes because it is recognised that these items should not be sent to landfill. Since then eWASA members continue to report an increase in collection rates, as awareness and the collection network grows.