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20 Oct 2015 10:31
Acting director-general for environmental affairs, Mark Gordon; vice-chancellor of VUT, Professor Irene Moutlana; chief executive of SATN, Dr Anshu Padayachee and VUT's Heinrich van der Merwe
The establishment of an e-waste centre, the first of its kind in South Africa, was announced at the 2015 South African
Technology Network (SATN) Conference running from October 19 to 21 at the Vaal
University of Technology (VUT) Southern Gauteng Science and Technology Park
campus in Sebokeng.
Acting director-general for the
department of environmental affairs, Mark Gordon, announced yesterday that
through a partnership between his department and VUT, an e-waste recycling and management
centre would be established at VUT’s Sebokeng campus.
The establishment of the centre was
born out of discussions with the Minister for Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa,
and Dr Anshu Padayachee, chief executive of the South African Technology
Network, seeking a solution to the staggering amount of toxic e-waste (discarded
electronic devices such as cellphones and computers) ending up in landfills
Said Gordon: “The centre will not
only deal with the recycling and management of e-waste for the good of the
environment but at the same time will address education and unemployment,
especially in the Vaal Triangle that includes the four black townships of
Boipatong, Bophelong, Sebokeng and Sharpville.
“Community involvement and
participation is very important for the minister and the department,” he added.
“Rural revitalisation through community involvement is one of the key
deliverables of this project.
It is meant to educate community members and to
scale up the ‘spaza shop’ mentality: having communities create their own
sustainable futures through entrepreneurial thought and innovation. It is aimed
to produce students who are entrepreneurial and who will be able to pay for
their studies without problems.”
Professor Irene Moutlana, vice-chancellor
of VUT, said that it is fitting that government and VUT came together to
address the issue of e-waste while simultaneously addressing unemployment. “The
centre will not only be built at the VUT Sebokeng Science and Technology
campus, but community members and students will also be educated here about e-waste
and the hazards it poses to the environment, as well as trained in turning e-waste
into profitable opportunities.”
According to Padayachee, universities
are one of the largest consumers and producers of e-waste while government is
the largest, producing 80% of South Africa’s e-waste.
Padayachee also noted that this
project already has the backing of the law and that legislation for it is
already in place. “We are not just doing it because we feel it is a good thing
to do. We are doing this in order to comply with international law, as per the
Basel Convention.” The convention was formulated to reduce the transportation
of hazardous waste between nations and ensure its safe disposal.
Gordon added that Government had
adopted 40 e-waste resolutions at a previous e-waste summit, which had already
been presented to Parliament. “It is envisioned to have the centre up and
running and in full operation within the next year,” he said.
VUT Southern Gauteng Science and
Technology Park operations manager, Heinrich van der Merwe, concluded by saying
that VUT will not only teach the theoretical aspect of e-waste management and
recycling, but the facility will include the recycling machines and
manufacturing equipment to turn e-waste into re-usable products. “For instance,
we will be the first to hold the IP (internet protocol) for the recycling of
the lead in computer screens.”
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