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Giulio Airaga, Desco Electronic Recyclers managing director

By Giulio Airaga, Desco Electronic Recyclers managing director

As global concern for the environment escalates and regulators take measures to tackle electronic waste (e-waste), particularly through the enactment of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) laws, it becomes imperative to carefully evaluate the costs and advantages associated with EPR compliance.

RELATED: Electronic waste rising five times faster than documented e-waste recycling: UN

The mounting accumulation of discarded electrical and electronic gadgets poses a significant challenge for South Africa. As per information provided on Gauteng’s official government platform, the nation generates approximately 360,000 tons of e-waste annually, with the Gauteng province contributing to 55% of this total.

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It’s imperative to enhance consumer awareness regarding the proper disposal methods for their electronic devices to prevent an environmental crisis.

EPR legislation

In November 2021, a significant milestone passed for manufacturers, importers, and distributors in South Africa dealing with electric and electronic equipment, lighting products, batteries, and packaging.

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Although the new EPR legislation places the responsibility on importers and manufacturers to ensure environmentally friendly management of their products, which may include product recycling, its success could be severely impeded if consumers remain uninformed about how to handle their old appliances.

The EPR legislation marking a pivotal moment in the country’s efforts to address the mounting issue of e-waste and promote a circular economy. This legislation obligates producers to take responsibility for their products throughout their entire lifecycle, ensuring responsible recycling and disposal at the end of their usefulness.

The aim of EPR legislation is clear: to curb the environmental impact of waste products, particularly e-waste and lithium-ion batteries, which have long plagued landfills and ecosystems. However, while the legislation presents a necessary step forward, its implementation has faced challenges and met with resistance from producers.

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EPR legislation encompasses a range of products, including e-waste, lighting, batteries, and packaging. Among these, e-waste and lithium-ion batteries stand out as focal points due to their significant environmental impact and complex recycling requirements.

Guidance and support for producers

As a result, many producers have turned to companies like Desco Electronic Recyclers for assistance in the complexities of EPR compliance, particularly in the realm of e-waste and battery recycling.

With over three decades of experience in electronic recycling, the company can help producers fulfil their obligations under EPR legislation. In recent years, it has expanded its services to include the recycling of lithium-ion batteries, recognising the critical need to address this emerging waste stream.

Through pilot studies and investment in technology, Desco has developed specialised solutions for lithium-ion battery recycling, providing producers with a viable option for responsible disposal. However, despite the availability of recycling solutions, producers have faced reluctance and pushback in complying with EPR legislation.

For many, the prospect of additional costs and administrative burdens associated with EPR compliance has been met with resistance. Moreover, the role of Producer Responsibility Organisations (PROs) in enforcing compliance has led to further apprehension among producers.

Driving positive change

As a trusted partner for producers, Desco offers guidance and support in addressing the complexities of EPR compliance. By providing transparent reporting and tailored solutions, the company enables producers to meet their obligations under the law while minimising the administrative burden and costs associated with compliance.

Central to its approach is the emphasis on choosing the right PRO and ensuring transparent communication between producers, recyclers, and regulatory authorities. By facilitating direct access to data and compliance reporting, Desco empowers producers to make informed decisions and advocate for their interests within the EPR framework.

Through innovation, collaboration, and advocacy, the company aims to drive positive change in the electronic recycling industry and pave the way for a more sustainable future.

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