On 23 August, a new law, The National Norms and Standards for Disposal of Waste to Landfill, came into effect, stating that landfill sites can no longer accept old electronic devices (e-waste) for dumping. Businesses (and individuals) are now expected to recycle these items responsibly through a licensed e-waste recycler.
While this requirement may seem onerous for businesses, Rodney Peters, divisional head at AST Recycling points out that it is the right thing to do. “There are substances that are harmful to the environment contained in electronic devices. These include mercury, lead, arsenic and cadmium. If these are sent to landfill, they can leech into the groundwater, or are released into the atmosphere when the equipment is burnt,” he says.
He adds that recycling e-waste through a licenced and reputable recycling company lets your business participate in the circular economy. “This cycle of reuse, repair and only then recycle decreases the exploitation of our planet’s resources, and eliminates the harm that these products do to our environment.”
Here’s everything you need to know about selecting an e-waste recycling provider:
You can check that the company providing you with recycling services is a registered e-waste recycler
Ask your recycling provider for their certifications. Specifically, they should hold ISO certifications for environmental management (ISO 14001), quality management systems (ISO 9001) and ISO/IEC 27001 (data security). They should also be affiliated with the e-Waste Association of South Africa (eWASA) and the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa (IWMSA).
Your recycling provider should be able to deal with your data as well as your hardware
One of the greatest concerns facing any organisation is that its data could be accessed from an item that goes for recycling – even more concerning now that the POPI Act has been signed into law. You should still be worried even if the data has been erased from the device. European data management standards require data drives to be cleaned seven times to ensure that not information remains accessible. Your e-waste recycling provider should be able to give you a similar level of assurance, and offer a certificate to guarantee that this has been done.
When your provider recycles your e-waste, they must provide you with a certificate of disposal
As the original owner of any IT equipment used in your organistion, you are responsible for its disposal, even if you sell it on or donate it to a third party. If any piece of dumped equipment is traced back to you, your business can be fined. For this reason, your e-waste recycling provider must provide you with a certificate of disposal that ensures all goods have been recycled responsibly. This shifts the liability for the equipment from your business to the recycler.
You should be able to stipulate what happens to your e-waste after it is processed by your recycling provider
Your e-waste recycling provider should consider whether your equipment is suitable for reuse and repair, before it is sent for recycling, as this benefits the environment. However, if your business has specific requirements for the disposal of your e-waste, for instance, that it cannot re-enter the market, or that your employees would like to buy it back once it’s been sanitised, then you should be able to specify this.
“Your relationship with your e-waste recycling provider should be a partnership,” explains Peters. “You should be certain that your provider is reputable and licenced, and that they will work with you to ensure that the recycling solutions they provide meet with all your requirements.”