E-waste: Don’t let your laptop turn toxic

Posted by Alastair Otter on June 7, 2007
Posted in Lifestyle

South Africans don’t really have a clue when it comes to recycling e-waste — old electronic equipment, like PCs, TVs, printers. Your average person on the street here probably doesn’t know that you can’t just throw e-waste out with the garbage in case it turns toxic in a landfill site. Although, fortunately, Mr Average is more likely to store old PCs and printers in a garage on the off-chance that they can be given to a good cause one day. After all, we PC owners in Africa live on a little first-world island separated from our poorer neighbours by a gaping digital divide. The problem is, nobody seems to know who to give their old PCs to. So they gather dust until Mr Average decides to clean out the garage. Then what? But things are beginning to change.

A number of Green e-Waste Channels have been set up in major centres in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Cape with the aim of allowing private households and corporate consumers to dispose of their e-waste safely. The channels are co-ordinated by the E-waste Association of South Africa (e-Wasa) and receive advice and support from the Swiss knowledge partnership programme. The Information Technology Association of South Africa (ITA) has also given its support to the e-waste initiative. The ITA recently co-hosted a conference on the e-waste situation in South Africa which highlighted the need for more information on the size of the e-waste phenomenon in this country, the importance of raising awareness about the dangers of e-waste, and the need for channels that make it easier for people to dispose of their preloved PCs so they can be repaired, recycled or disposed of safely.

If you want to know what toxic substances your PC contains, they’re listed on the ITA’s website.

To read more go to Tectonic

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