Finweek English Edition - - INSIGHT -

Late last year, Interpol (the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Po­lice Or­gan­i­sa­tion) re­ported that al­most one in three con­tain­ers leav­ing the EU that were checked by its agents con­tained il­le­gal e-waste des­tined for de­vel­op­ing coun­tries. While it is le­gal to ex­port dis­carded goods to coun­tries if they can be reused or re­fur­bished, much is be­ing sent to Africa or Asia un­der false pre­tences, Interpol re­vealed. “A sub­stan­tial pro­por­tion of e-waste ex­ports go to coun­tries out­side Europe, in­clud­ing West African coun­tries. Treat­ment in these coun­tries usu­ally oc­curs in the in­for­mal sec­tor, caus­ing sig­nif­i­cant en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tion and health risks for lo­cal pop­u­la­tions.” – specif­i­cally elec­tronic as­sets for longer terms – so dis­posal is not top of mind or top of pri­or­ity,” adds Jooste.

For­tu­nately, many ICT com­pa­nies are recog­nis­ing that they have a ma­jor role to play and are de­vis­ing strate­gies to make e-waste man­age­ment eas­ier and more ef­fi­cient for clients.

“As part of the big­ger ICT ecosys­tem, any provider of elec­tronic based so­lu­tions should as a mat­ter of course have e-waste dis­posal prac­tices, pro­cesses and fa­cil­i­ties [or part­ner­ships] in place to en­able their clients to prac­tice eco­nom­i­cally and en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly elec­tronic e-waste man­age­ment,” says Jooste. “Fail­ure to pro­vide these ser­vices means that businesses in gen­eral need to f ind other or­gan­i­sa­tions to man­age their e-waste for them – and this may come at a cost, so it may not be eco­nom­i­cally vi­able for businesses.”

He notes that as part of the pro­cure­ment cy­cle and the costs of pro­duc­tion of elec­tronic as­sets, the dis­posal of said as­sets should be part of the ser­vices that the ICT or­gan­i­sa­tion should deliver as a stan­dard prac­tice. Fail­ure to do this “leads to a failed ecosys­tem of ICT busi­ness en­able­ment”.

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