Is Africa the dumping ground for old cell phones and other electronic items from the United States and the rest of the world? The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) believes that may well actually be the case. With more than 15 million tons of new e-waste being generated every year all over the world, the fear is that Africa is the target dumping ground for a large portion of it.
With this fear in mind, ITWeb and Africa E-Waste have launched a joint investigation to try and find out whether South African companies are even really aware of the nature of the waste that they are dumping, as well as exactly what the laws regarding the dumping of old cell phones and other electrical items really are in the country. Methods of disposal being employed there will also be analyzed.
“It will investigate if these companies have someone collecting the electronic waste, what they are doing with, and if they supply auditable reports,” says Ulze van Wyk MD from Africa E-Waste. Van Wyk says that while an international treaty known as the Basel Convention was supposed to prevent hazardous materials being sent to developing countries and cut down on the movement of electronic waste between countries, some companies are actually importing old electronics to South Africa. “I believe we have enough equipment in SA to feed our own market,” she says. “We only need to get more companies to refurbish their equipment and stop importing used electronic products in our market.”