MTN gets tough on e-waste

MTN has signed a deal with the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) to manage the disposal of old cellular handsets and create development in the electronic waste (e-waste) industry in SA.

The deal was signed by GIZ on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, and is aimed at increasing awareness of safe recycling of electronic products.

“Global mismanagement of e-waste is resulting in large-scale dumping, often in open landfills, predominantly in areas or countries with poor levels of environmental governance or enforcement ability,” says MTN Group vice-president for commercial and innovation Christian de Faria.

MTN will create e-waste collection points in two cities in SA as part of a year-long pilot project. The points will be located at schools and shopping centres.

They will be used mainly to collect mobile devices that users no longer want, regardless of the type or operator they were bought from.

These products will then be recycled to claim back the valuable materials for use in other devices.

As part of the partnership, GIZ will begin boosting the SA e-waste recycling industry by developing standards and protocols that SA recyclers can use.

Small and medium e-waste handlers will be given preference for recycling and will be monitored by MTN SA to ensure that they abide by approved e-waste handling processes.

If the project goes well in SA, it will be expanded in more of the 21 countries in which MTN operates in the Middle East and Africa.

GIZ has participated in similar projects in India and Morocco.

De Faria says that although MTN does not manufacture handsets, computers and other electronic devices, it does play a hand in distributing products that could become e-waste.

MTN has long been preparing for global regulation that will govern carbon emissions and is one of the few SA businesses to have registered for carbon credits.

Concerns have been rising in the past few years that Africa has become a dumping ground for developed regions looking to offload old technologies. Once these devices have reached end-of-life, they are often discarded in open landfills, becoming a health and environmental hazard given that many of them contain toxic chemicals.  — Staff reporter, TechCentral

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  • maneshk

    Why is it that the toxicity of these products is only an issue when its in a landfill and not when its near our ears or on our desks?

  • @maneshk Because you don’t crack open the batteries and smear the chemicals all over your face and/or ears. Or expose the innards, wait for the parts to oxidize and then lick all the surfaces. At least, I hope you don’t!

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