New E-Waste Recycling Laws
New e-waste recycling laws require OEMs to take responsibility for the full lifecycle of their products

In November, the South African government gazetted new recycling laws aimed at reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfill in this country.

In South Africa, only 10 percent of the 108 million tons of all waste (which includes e-waste) generated every year is recycled. The National Waste Management Strategy 2020 (NWMS) aims to address this, not only to achieve environmental benefits, but also to boost the economy, create jobs, and improve South Africa’s use of resources. Taken together, these elements contribute to the circular economy.

What does this mean for original equipment manufacturer (OEMs)?

E-waste is a significant waste stream (with approximately 360 000 tonnes being generated per year) in this country, and under the new legislation there is a call for extended producer responsibility, taking a cradle-to-cradle approach in managing of their equipment placed on market. Producers have been given six months to establish collecting and recycling schemes for products at the end of life.

“What this means is that if, for instance, a computer manufacturer creates and distributes a machine, when the computer is at the end of its life, it has to be returned to the manufacturer to either be upgraded or responsibly disposed of,” says Malcolm Whitehouse, the general manager of AST Recycling. “While this legislation is generally aimed at business-to-business suppliers, it seems that it will be applied to business-to-consumer suppliers as well, and as they aren’t prepared for an ongoing engagement with their buyers, the recycling requirement presents a significant challenge for them.”

Malcolm points out that for any single OEM to establish a nationwide network of collection points is an onerous task. “That’s where we at AST Recycling come in. With the over-100 years of collective experience of our team in establishing recycling programmes, we can help businesses to understand these laws and offer customisable solutions for collections and compliant and responsible end-of-life refurbishment and or recycling.”

The AST Recycling solution

AST recycling already has a number of OEMs as its clients, and Whitehouse wishes to make all producers aware that AST’s services can expand to all aspects of compliance and due diligence under the new legislation. As a specialist e-waste management services company, they offer a full bouquet of not only recycling, but refurbishment, lifecycle management, IT managed services, as well as data protection services including data erasure and sanitation. The company is ISO 9001 (quality management systems), ISO 14001 (environmental management) and ISO 27001 (cyber security compliance) certified.

“The secret to our success is that we close the loop completely, offering our clients a chain of custody so that the OEMs can fulfill their legal obligations,” says Whitehouse. “We do a needs analysis and due diligence of your business, to tailor-make a solution that meets your needs.”

Participate in the new era of recycling management

With the onus for compliance being placed on the OEMs, Whitehouse is optimistic that this will trigger a new era of recycling management compliance to e-waste best practices in South Africa. “AST Recycling have preempted this legislation and welcomes the participation of and further development in conjunction with the OEMs,” he concludes.

School E-waste Recycling Campaign

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