Old appliances and other electrical items that may be replaced with new devices at the end the year need to be disposed of properly so that they do not pose a threat to the environment. This warning is raised by the non-profit organisation Circular Energy.
All electrical and electronic items that are no longer used should be recycled safely.
The organisation points out that anything that depends on an electrical current to work, or any product with a plug, cable or battery can – and should – be recycled when it will no longer be used. Electrical items contain hazardous materials that are particularly harmful to the environment when they end up in landfills or elsewhere. In addition, for every gram of recyclable materials not recovered from these items, tonnes of raw material have to be mined and processed, causing further environmental harm.
South African consumers are not yet in the habit of recycling unwanted or no longer needed electrical and electronic items, as the country is a few years behind many other countries with the implementation of the so-called Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) regulations. The EPR regulations in South Africa require manufacturers, importers and resellers of recoverable items and materials to fund legally compliant recycling schemes through a Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO).
Some PROs, working with retail partners or others, are taking the route of rewarding consumers for recycling their old electronic items. Although such campaigns have some benefits, Circular Energy suggests that rewards like this are not sustainable and do not build awareness of the severe harm that electronic items, when improperly disposed of, can cause to the environment.
Entrepreneurially-minded individuals are also profiting from South Africans wanting to make a few rand from their unwanted appliances – buying ‘discard’ electronic items, stripping them for parts and then dumping them in general waste landfills. In most cases neither party is aware of the environmental damage that is caused by the improper disposal of electronic items once they have been stripped for parts. Many of these businesses that buy electronic items to fix and resell are also usually unaware that this practice now requires them to comply with the EPR regulations as a reseller, and that non-compliance can result in imprisonment or heavy fines.
With a potential increase in e-waste as we move into the new year, Circular Energy appeals to all South Africans to see their unwanted electronic items not as a source of potential income, but to recognise them as a potential threat to the health of their children and their children’s children.
The company offers a free nationwide collection service for no longer wanted electric and electronic items. This is available for all South Africans that want to play their part in saving the planet.
For more information visit: www.circular-energy.org