E-waste: Johnny Clegg speaks out

Posted by Alastair Otter on August 21, 2008
Posted in Green News

Although e-waste only accounts for 2% to 3% of the content of landfill sites it contributes about 60% of the toxicity of those sites. This is according to African Sky’s Johnny Clegg who was speaking at the Gartner Symposium in Cape Town yesterday.

Well known for his musical career, Clegg said that there were many misconceptions about e-waste and its consequences. Among these, he said, was that companies would not be held liable for illegal dumping of old IT equipment. Clegg said that just because old IT equipment had been handed over to a “recycler”, companies were obliged to ensure that equipment was correctly and safely recycled.

Clegg said that in South Africa there was a lack of proper recycling facilities. He said that recyclers locally were in fact separators and not recyclers. What this meant for companies, he said, was that they must find out where the separated IT equipment went once it left local shores. He said countries such as China and parts of Europe had proper recycling facilities.

Clegg also said that the e-waste sector often attracted criminal elements and organised crime. He said that while the mining industry typically extracted one ounce of gold from one ton of rock, one ton of PC boards typically yielded as much as six ounces of gold. This made illegal recycling attractive to criminal elements who were able to export the raw waste and import the profits, said Clegg.

Clegg said that one of the other problems with e-waste was that manufacturers did not build a recycling cost into their costs. In European countries PC makers were obliged to include a recycling cost into their production costs to cover the end-of-life disposal of their products.


One Response to “E-waste: Johnny Clegg speaks out”

  1. Melanie
    September 15th, 2008 @ 7:09 pm

    Everybody speaks of wanting to make South Africa a better place and stop crime, or people criticizing. And this is what we are supposed to do, we need to come out and do. If we as normal citizens don’t stand up and speak out loud and do something about crime and pollution then nobody will. So go Johnny Clegg. finally somebody’s standing up for something that’s important!!

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