Frequently asked questions around E-Waste

What does E-Waste stand for?

Electronic Waste or otherwise known as Computer Scrap or Electronic Junk. There are many variations but all point to the same.

What is E-Waste?

E-Waste is anything that works from a power source: ie. direct Eskom power, batteries, solar, dynamo.

Why is dumping E-Waste illegal?

Refer to the National Environmental Management Act 1998 and National Environmental Management: Waste Act 2008. Failure to comply with the Waste Act could result in a R10 Million fine, jail time or both.

Why doesn't Desco recycle Radioactive devices, Printer cartridges, Biohazardous waste or poison / toxins?

Items of this nature require specialized handling and destruction (usually extreme heat) for which we are not certified to do.

Are the fines issued for dumping E-Waste illegally just another way for the government to make money?

No. The hard fact is that the fines are imposed to stop people from destroying the environment knowingly. “If you don’t want the fine then don’t do the crime”.

If I can't get to Desco to drop off my E-Waste, then where can I take it to get recycled?

Desco has placed bins at various shops and schools. To find the nearest drop-off point to your location, click here.

What minerals get extracted from E-Waste?

The following metals are extracted through a process involving shredding, heat and chemical extraction: Copper, Zinc, Aluminium and ferrous and non-ferrous metals

Will Desco collect E-Waste from my house?

Desco does free collections for items weighing over 1 ton or 1 square metre. Anything under will be charged at R450 ex VAT per collection within Gauteng.

How can I get hard drives recycled so that the data on them is permanently erased?

Desco offers Secure Destruction for data storage media (hard drives, backup tapes, zip discs, optical media, flash cards, etc) which can be witnessed during the destruction process. A Secure Destruction certificate is provided as proof.

Why is E-Waste banned from landfill disposal?

All E-Waste contains hazardous materials (lead, pvc “hydrocholric acid”, barium, flame retardents, cadmium, mercury, beryllium, selenium) that leach into the ground water when exposed to the elements. Consumption of this water, even after filtration can cause health problems such as damage to: brain, kidneys, nervous system, lungs, muscles, heart, liver, spleen, reproductive organs, as well as hair loss and brittle nails.

Who does the Waste Act actually apply to?

Any company or person who:

1. Generates waste

2. Stores waste

3. Reuses, Recycles and Recovers waste

4. Treats waste

5. Disposes of waste

6. Stores, treats and processes animal waste

7. Constructs, expands or decommissions facilities and associated structures and infrastructure

What is the Basel Convention?

The Basel Convention is a global treaty ratified by almost every country of the world (170 countries or “Parties”) but not by the United States. This Convention seeks to minimize and strictly control the trade in hazardous waste between countries, with a particular goal to protect developing countries. The U.S. is the only developed country NOT to have ratified the Basel Convention. Exporting countries covered by Basel are required to get written permission from importing and transit countries before shipping their hazardous wastes, through a very specific “prior informed consent” process. Also, parties to the Convention are prohibited from trading in hazardous waste with countries which are not parties to the Convention.