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Electronics Technical

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,

Western Cape

to

discuss

a blueprint for

an

e-waste

the country.

The

blueprint

follows

after

an

initial

situation

management

system

in

study

completed

in

2005

for

Gauteng.

In

that

report

the

existing legislation framework to manage e-waste was addressed as part of the system

parameters.

The

following is

a summary

of

that report’s

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

disposal.

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

NEMA

were approved by

van

Schalkwyk

in

July

2005.

The

amended

final

draft

was

launched

by

the

Minister

on

19

April

2006.

These

regulations

were

Gazetted on 21 on 1 July 2006.

April

2006

and

came

into

effect

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

communication.

Implementing instruments

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

47

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