E-waste legislation in South Africa
by Lene Ecroignard, eWASA
With electronic waste (e-waste) considered a growing problem world-wide, a group of concerned South Africans have formed a working group to address these issues.
Initiated by a Swiss knowledge- partnership with projects in China, India and South Africa, the working group evolved into the South African e-waste Association (eWASA) that recently met in Greyton,
a blueprint for
existing legislation framework to manage e-waste was addressed as part of the system
findings relative to legislation.
The South African Constitution establishes basic environmental rights including the right to an environment that is not detrimental to one’s health; just administrative action and access to information. These form the basis for the country’s environmental and waste legislation.
The National Environmental Management Act (Act 107 of 1998) (NEMA) provides a principal framework for sound environmental management practices for all development activities. Waste management is provided for in the Act with principles such as polluter pays and cradle to grave. NEMA refers to avoidance or minimisation and remediation of pollution, including waste reduction, re-use, recycling and proper waste
The Occupational Health and Safety Act (Act 85 of 1993) (OHSA) that provides for health and safety of persons at work and specific regulations that deal with waste management should also be considered as a background to specific legislation dealing with e-waste management.
The primary objective of The Environment Conservation Act (Act 73 of 1989) (ECA) is to provide for the effective protection and controlled
EngineerIT - October 2006
utilisation of the environment. The ECA makes specific reference to waste disposal in Section 20 and defines the role of the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) in permitting waste disposal sites. This responsibility is addressed through the formulation of the “Minimum Requirements” series of documents guiding the disposal of waste by landfill. These minimum requirements state the requirements, standards and procedures that apply in the permitting of waste disposal and handling facilities. .
New draft Environmental Impact Assessment
regulations under Minister Marthinus
were approved by
Gazetted on 21 on 1 July 2006.
The White Paper on Integrated Pollution and Waste Management outlines the principles for the allocation of environmental and waste management functions as well as powers for national, provincial and local governments. The National Waste Management Strategy (NWMS) and action plans followed, through a joint venture between the Department of Environmental Affairs
and Tourism and the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) in an initiative supported by the Danish donor agency. The action plans developed under the NWMS initiative focuses on the following:-
Integrated waste management planning
Waste information system
General waste collection
Waste treatment and disposal
Capacity building, education, awareness and
Priority areas that need to be addressed in the short term are: recycling, waste information systems and health care waste (HCW). “One of the key objectives for recycling is to extend and increase the concept of recycling to other waste streams (apart from the ones already in place) where recycling opportunities exist. The South African e-waste recycling initiative therefore presents such an opportunity.” Widmer & Lombard 2005.
Healthy living and working conditions are provided for under the Health Act: Act No. 63