UJ and Gauteng eGovernment join forces to tackle e-waste
The University of Johannesburg (UJ) and the Gauteng Department of e-Government (GDeG) today 1 March 2022, launched the newly established Gauteng e-Waste Management System, to tackle the province’s mounting e-waste.
e-Waste refers to the disposal of electrical and electronic gadgets. The e-waste management system is being implemented as a solution to help improve the collection, recycling, and safe disposal of electronic waste (e-waste) in the province. Gauteng is regarded as ‘the hub of the South African economy’ due to the various industrial economic activities that take place in the province. This has, however, resulted in the accumulation of e-waste, caused by the high use of technological products, such as, home appliances, mobile phones, computers, etc. by residents. South Africa experiences about 360,000 tons of e-waste each year and Gauteng accounts for about 55% of the national e-waste quantities.
Professor Saurabh Sinha, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Internationalisation, represented the university on behalf of Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tshilidzi Marwala.
“The 4IR, which is fundamentally shifting every aspect of society through intelligent technologies, has been touted as the key to finding solutions to many of our deep-seated issues. Simply put, the digitisation of government speaks to the implementation and development of urban services through the use of digital technology, which is a representation of 4IR in action,” he said, adding that UJ’s partnership with the GDeG is representative of the commitment to the 4IR.
The e-waste management system has been established to help address the challenges of poorly coordinated e-waste management in the province. Apart from helping in educating Gauteng residents on issues of e-waste, the project will also instil a culture of recycling electronics.
“This collaboration is envisioned to unlock solutions that not only address issues such as e-waste but also creates a value chain that speaks to SMMEs and the informal sector through the creation of a circular economy,” added Prof Sinha.
Technical Manager at UJ’s Process, Energy and Environmental Technology Station (UJ PEETS), Nickey Janse van Rensburg, explained UJ’s significant involvement in the sector.
“e-Waste is one of the fastest growing waste streams and it is actually quite hazardous. What Gauteng Province is trying to achieve is to have a strategy to manage and deal with e-waste. At UJ we have partnered with eGov to help develop the strategy, bringing them into contact with experts from various institutions and agencies. We are also working with other agencies to support capacity development and training, designing short learning programmes that will stretch across the entire value chain, from the informal sector to management of the facilities and what is required in terms of legislation and linking it to the circular economy,” she explained.
Janse van Rensburg added that in the next few years people would be able to see what happens with their electronic devices once they are disposed of and how they are brought back into the economy to be reclaimed.
Gauteng Premier, Mr David Makhura expressed how rapid technological change empowered people and changed their quality of life. He voiced how important it was to have digital inclusion, so no one is left behind.
“This mounting e-waste problem is an opportunity for us to bring in new players to deal with the environmental problem by having a different approach to it and bringing in young people.”
Through this project, the Gauteng Provincial Government aims to achieve a sustainable e-waste management solution that will ensure a clean, healthy and safe environment.