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”.