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A case study Print E-mail
The launch of an e-waste recycling unit in Cape Town: setting an example.

ith the framework of the programme for the management of e-waste in Africa, the Cape Town electronic waste recycling unit was opened on Tuesday 18 March 2008. Around fifty people attended the event, including representatives of Cape Town City Council, the South African Information Technology Association (ITA), waste recovery companies, the press, HP, EMPA and the DSF.

The recycling unit is a product of the Cape Regional Initiative, a joint project between three organisations that are heavily involved in the field of waste recovery and recycling in Cape Town: Recycling IT, Recover-e-Alliance and Wasteplan. In South Africa, electrical and electronic waste is accumulating faster than any other type of waste, so this project comes at just the right time. “We see this project as a way to help develop a sustainable infrastructure to safely deal with electronic waste based on local practices that will benefit local communities”, explained Thoko Mokgosi-Mwantembe, Managing Director of HP South Africa. “Once fully operational, this pilot project will process up to 150,000 tonnes of equipment per year and create around 20 jobs“, she added.

“We have seen some very inventive and entrepreneurial people making a living out of dismantling old electronic equipment in South Africa. This equipment is being used by the community, and people are making everything from toys to art out of it. We are looking to develop effective methods of dealing with waste that will allow this sector to flourish in a safe and sustainable manner”, explained Gerry Newson of Recovere-Alliance.

The Cape Town unit demonstrates that it is possible to combine the recycling of e-waste with the challenges of improving working conditions, creating jobs and ensuring sustainability. An exhibition of objects made from electronic waste, such as toys and clocks, was organised for the opening ceremony.

It is important that this first unit serve as an example for other cities in other developing countries. The e-waste recycling unit shows that effective management of e-waste can be profitable.
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