e-Waste Collection Drive to take place in Gauteng in November

The IWMSA (Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa) in association with eWASA (the e-Waste Association of South Africa) will be hosting an e-Waste collection drive in Gauteng on Saturday 19 November 2011 from 09:00 to 14:00.

The aim of the drive is to encourage people and businesses to bring all their electronic and electrical equipment waste (e-Waste) to the nearest collection point to be safely refurbished, dismantled or recycled. There will be in excess of 24 collection points across Gauteng accepting e-Waste on this day.

“e-Waste can be defined as anything that uses electricity or a battery and is no longer needed. This includes unwanted equipment such as computers, printers, fax machines, cell phones, toasters, microwave ovens, cabling, ink and toner cartridges, or any other electrical or electronic goods or direct parts thereof. Everything in the home or at the workplace that is driven by electricity, including battery operated items, falls into this category”, explains Lene Ecroignard, Research and Development expert at eWASA.

“People often hold onto e-Waste, even if they are no longer using it, because it has a perceived value,” says Jonathan Shamrock, Vice-chairperson of the Central Branch of the IWMSA. “But these items are merely creating clutter and could be put to far better use if refurbished or recycled. For this reason we felt it was pertinent to launch our e-Waste collection drive so that people can be informed about what e-Waste is and how to dispose of it correctly. e-Waste should by no means be discarded with your usual rubbish and should always be taken to a verified e-Waste disposal point,” Shamrock explains.

e-Waste drop-off points on 19 November will be Africa e-Waste offices in Midrand; Flora Farm Nursery; Vodaworld; Hartebees Mall; Hi-Fi Corporation Boksburg, Clearwater, Fourways, Stoneridge, The Glen and Woodmead; Holy Rosary School; Incredible Connection Kolonnade Mall; Kolonnade Retail Park; Makro Centurion, Crown Mines, Germiston, Silver Lakes, Struben’s Valley, Wonderboom and Woodmead; Multichoice offices in Randburg; NG Kerk Moreletta; All Pick n Pay franchise stores (for CFLs, batteries and printer cartridges only); Pick n Pay Hyper Centurion and Rooihuiskraal Veterinary Clinic. “As a result of the ever-increasing desire for newer, smaller, and faster technology, waste electrical and electronic equipment is now one of the fastest growing waste streams in the world.

Toxic or hazardous substances in electronic waste are typically heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium, amongst others. Electronics also contain small amounts of gold, silver, copper, platinum; all precious metals that are in finite supply, along with plastic, lead containing monitor glass and other metals. Apart from being essential to keep as much hazardous waste as possible out of landfills, reuse of materials reduces the need to deplete precious resources,” says Keith Anderson, Chairman of eWASA.

The IWMSA and eWASA hope to host many more such e-Waste collection drives in Gauteng in the future to continue building awareness and consumer consciousness around the management of e-Waste.

For more information on the e-Waste drive and for e-Waste disposal points in your area go to www.ewasa.org orwww.mywaste.co.za or contact the eWASA office by email at info@ewasa.org or telephonically on 031 575 8119.

The IWMSA is a professional, multi-disciplinary organisation with voluntary membership established to promote the science and practice of waste management and is a non-profit organisation. For more information contact the IWMSA on  011 675 3462 or visit www.iwmsa.co.za

The Department of Energy commits to ensuring that sustainable and affordable energy becomes universally accessible

The second annual Sustainable Energy Seminar has drawn to an end, with the full support from the Department of Energy who have committed to ensuring that sustainable and affordable energy becomes universally accessible.

Global leading researchers, sector leaders, government representatives and stakeholders of the energy sector all descended on Emperor’s Palace earlier this month and engaged and discussed pivotal energy related issues.

The keynote speaker was Ms Nelisiwe Magubane, Director General of the Department of Energy, South Africa. Magubane focused on the premise that, “the energy sector contributes significantly to adverse climate change and that this calls for countries, including our own, to re-look the energy mix going forward.

“Our energy sector accounts for approximately 60 percent of greenhouse gas emissions;  it is therefore imperative to introduce practices that will reduce the demand for energy as a matter of urgency”.

Magubane commented on the White Paper that was promulgated by Government in 1998 and stated, “this paper envisioned an electricity industry that would increase the opportunity to exploit cheaper and environmentally benign generation options; has the potential for downward pressure on electricity prices and has the potential to improve energy security”. Magubane also shared her belief that the Department of Energy, in line with the vision of the White Paper, presides over a sector with arguably one of the highest potentials to improve the lives of the people of South Africa.

As a result, Magubane emphasised that the Department of Energy is committed to ensuring that sustainable and affordable energy becomes universally accessible.

Magubane also explained what the Government was doing to move nearer to this onerous goal and commented on the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP 2010-2030) that was approved by cabinet in March 2010. This defined a tangible plan for embarking on a low carbon energy future that also secures the participation of Independent Power Producers (IPP).  Magubane noted that, “solar and wind generation constitutes over 16,000 megawatts of the portfolio up to 2030” and added that there has been an overwhelming response from IPP project developers.

The Sustainable Energy Seminar is seen as a build-up event to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC) COP 17, due to be held in Durban from 28 November to 9 December 2011.

Magubane commented on the importance of this conference as this is where the envisioned financial support of the international community will be discussed, and stressed that “as South Africa interacts with the world during this conference, it should be clear what we are doing on the ground, as actions speak louder than words.”

The Sustainable Energy seminar was attended by several other speakers and there were just over 40 participating organisations and exhibitors at the event, including Brand South Africa Partnership, Department of Energy, Department of Science and Technology, AVIS, Wesgro and Aurecon.

Lloyd Macfarlane, CEO of Alive2green, the main co-ordinators of the event, commented that, “the media plays a critical role in advancing sustainability and facilitating a move away from unsustainable practices by exposing what is bad and providing people with facts, information and knowledge about what is good. Alive2green strives to achieve this knowledge transfer in the energy sector and The Sustainable Energy Seminars are one of the many media platforms it uses”.

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Economic opportunities exist in green business and buying local

“Many economic opportunities exist for South African businesses in the field of climate change,” said Dr Timothy Fasheun, Manager for the KwaZulu Natal Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs, at a business forum co-hosted by Proudly South African, the Responsible Packaging Management Association of Southern Africa (RPMASA) and Enterprise Ilembe in Ballito recently. “A scenario analysis conducted in Australia and New Zealand has shown that opportunities in climate change business could be worth millions of Rands per annum and could deliver greenhouse gas (GHG) savings of millions of tonnes of CO2 annually. It makes good business sense to understand and work to manage GHG emissions and to identify business opportunities that are likely to arise out of a carbon constrained economy,” Fasheun explained.

The same applies to businesses sourcing or supplying goods and services locally,” said Dalene du Preez, Executive Marketing and Communications Manager of Proudly South African. “Operating and buying locally not only reduces your carbon footprint but by supporting local business you are supporting the community in which you are based and as such helping to grow the economy of this country. From the end of this year it will become mandatory for Government departments to procure goods and services locally and this will create significant opportunities for South African businesses and stimulate job creation,” du Preez continued. One of the challenges that South African businesses seem to face is finding or recognising these opportunities in order to be able to tap into them. Both Proudly South African and Enterprise Ilembe have databases of companies providing locally manufactured goods and services and are also able to provide information on grants available from the dti (Department of Trade and Industry) to those wishing to grow and develop businesses locally. Government funding trough the National Treasury is also available via the Jobs Fund www.jobsfund.org.za.

An opportunity for local business that is about to land on our doorstep is COP17, the 17th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which will be held in Durban from 28 November to 09 December 2011. The COP (Conference of the Parties) adopts decisions and resolutions relating to International progress in dealing with climate change and successive decisions taken by the COP make up a detailed set of rules for practical and effective implementation.

“COP17 is an enormous undertaking for our province and our country,” said Liz Anderson, President of the RPMASA. “Whilst hosting the conference will provide opportunities for local businesses to benefit from the temporary influx of visitors to our country, the resulting decisions and regulations that come out of the conference will have an ongoing effect on how we conduct green business in South Africa,” Anderson continued. With increasing emphasis on the sustainable use of resources to reduce carbon footprint and GHG emissions, packaging has been recognised as both a problem and an opportunity. The RPMASA encourages businesses to reuse and recycle packaging wherever possible and has seen that business opportunities exist in the recycling and reprocessing of plastic packaging. Chemical and Industrial drums can be recovered to reprocess for re-use or recycled at end of life into other products with large resource, energy and emission savings. An estimated 1.25 million tons of plastic is converted annually, of which only approximately 45% is recovered for re-use. This figure could be significantly higher if more plastic packaging was recovered from the waste stream and processed for recycling.

RPMASA together with eThekwini Health have launched The Happy Drum Project, an initiative that provides thousands of community members in the Metro and KwaZulu Natal region access to clean plastic drums for transporting drinking water. The purpose of the project is to stop the sale of used chemical and industrial drums and containers which pose serious health and pollution risks to the public. The sale of the drums, which are locally manufactured, not only boosts the local economy but also facilities an environment whereby chemical and industrial drums can be reprocessed and recycled appropriately.

For more information about the RPMASA visit their website at www.rpmasa.org.za or contact Liz Anderson or Celenia Padayachee on 032 947 1145.

The RPMASA promotes the safe, efficient and environmentally responsible manufacture, fill, use, collection, transport, reprocessing, remanufacturing, recycling, reuse and final disposal of reusable industrial packaging.

Oils and Solvents: Invisible and Hazardous Goundwater Contaminants

Around two thirds of South Africa’s surface area is heavily dependent upon its groundwater.  Pulled underground by gravity and stored in mainly non-porous rock cavities, groundwater is a valuable resource, especially in times of drought.  The Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa (IWMSA)’s, Western Cape branch hosted a workshop last week to address the issue of Oils and Solvents as hazardous waste, and the correct manner in which to store and dispose of these two substances, which could otherwise cause irreversible damage to our precious groundwater.

Oils and solvents are required to be properly contained, marked and stored before being disposed of;   with the correct permits in place, and at suitable hazardous waste management facilities.  Melani Traut, IWMSA committee member and Professional Scientist says “Whilst commercial entities are largely responsible for producing waste oils and solvents, the public also needs to be informed of the dangers of irresponsibly dumping such materials.  One shocking statistic is that the oil, from one oil- change on a single motor vehicle, can potentially contaminate up to 3 million litres of ground water.   That’s more than an Olympic sized swimming pool (which holds 2.5 million litres of water).”

We all know the effects on fish and birdlife when there’s a major oil spill on a body of water.  The oil spreads out into a thin ‘monolayer’ which acts as a barrier, depleting anything beneath it of oxygen.    Although not visibly obvious, a similar situation occurs when oil or any other harmful liquid infiltrates soil.  It impacts on groundwater, affects permeation by covering roots, interferes with osmosis and can literally poison plants and animals, not to mention humans.

Solvents are another cause for concern and produce unseen toxic gases which are volatile and flammable.   Sometimes, the mere vapour from solvent residues is enough to explode or ignite with the slightest spark.  If some proprietary/specially designed emulsified solvents are disposed of incorrectly, they will pollute and upset the pH balance of the landfill site and increase the salinity of the leachate (leachate is similar to the liquid that collects in the bottom of waste bins), since they may contain caustic soda and other salts.  All liquids sink right to the bottom of landfills and if the landfill is not designed to carry hazardous waste, they can damage the landfill liner, escape into the earth, and hence into the groundwater.

Liquid groundwater pollutants are both mobile and insidious, which makes them extremely difficult to contain.  It is, however, encouraging that there is a plan in place in South Africa, where over the next five years all liquid waste will eventually be banned from landfill.  In the meantime, it is essential to prevent such hazardous waste from entering the environment illegally.

Hamied Mazema, IWMSA committee member and Professional Chemical Process Engineer says “We have to alter our thinking.  If you design something, you have to consider the end result.   Simply put, we need to avoid producing the hazardous waste to begin with, in order to prevent having to dispose of it; reuse materials, recycle diligently and recover whatever we can.  Disposal should be the last port of call.”

The IWMSA provides education and training for its members, offering opportunities to network and exchange information with like-minded individuals, and to have a voice in the formulation of legislation.

The IWMSA is a professional, multi-disciplinary organisation with voluntary membership established to promote the science and practice of waste management and is a non-profit organisation. For more information visit: www.iwmsa.co.za or contact the IWMSA on 011 675 3462/4.

Etafeni’s Green Fingers Grow Goodness

Western Cape – Etafeni Day Care Centre is now able to continue to provide fresh, organically grown vegetables for up to 200 healthy meals daily at their centres in Nyanga and Vrygrond, due to the generous donation of gardening equipment, seedlings and compost by the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa (IWMSA).

In addition to the food gardens at each centre, the Etafeni staff have also established 20 community food gardens at their clients homes in the past two years.  The Etafeni Day Care Trust, in partnership with the local community, has built multi-purpose day care centres which take into account the needs of vulnerable children, the needs of those who care for them and the needs of the community.  Etafeni views the physical structures and services on their sites as a metaphor for what they hope to see happening inside all the role players:  the gradual growth of trust, of softness, of creativity and of enjoyment of self and others.

The Western Cape branch of the IWMSA identified and selected Etafeni as a beneficiary for their annual community outreach initiative based upon Etafeni’s commitment to developing food gardens and their best-practice model of sustainable community-based care for AIDS-vulnerable children and their caregivers.  The IWMSA thanks Builders Express who offered free delivery, as well as a substantial discount on the items that were purchased.

Photo caption:  Barbara Miller (Etafeni Day Care Centre, Development Manager) left, Mahier Abrahams (IWMSA Western Cape Branch, Committee Member) centre back, Mzoxolo Menyo (Etafeni Day Care Centre, Equipment Manager) front, and Richard Emery (IWMSA Western Cape Branch, Chairman) right