Growing economic prosperity is rapidly increasing waste volumes in emerging countries.
The rapid surge in waste volumes since 2007 is straining waste-management systems in many developing countries, with negative effects in economic, health, and ecosystem terms.
The Philippines is a case in point: it produces 2.7 million metric tons of plastic waste per year 600,000 metric tons in metro Manila alone.
As Inge Lardinois and Arnold van de Klundert wrote 20 years ago: By almost any form of evaluation, solid waste management is a growing environmental and financial problem in developing countries.
Despite significant efforts in the last decades, the majority of municipalities in the developing countries cannot manage the growing volume of waste produced in their cities.
South Africa’s problem in managing e-waste is getting worse because of a lack of recycling infrastructure, poor legislation and ignorance, according to industry commentators.
Finally, informal e-waste recycling usually only includes the early stages of recycling – collection, crude dismantling and sorting.
Informal recyclers are vulnerable, often deal with e-waste in a hazardous way, and are open to exploitation.
It also recommended the active engagement of all stakeholders in the current drive by eWASA to establish an e-waste management system, the support of small business start-ups and informal recyclers, and support for investment in new recycling technology through incentives.
Current waste management legislation in South Africa does not require landfill owners or recyclers to keep accurate records regarding e-waste volumes.
Keith Anderson, chairman of eWASA believes that e-waste recycling rates in South Africa are improving but are not at an international standard yet due to poor education and the high cost of e-waste recycling plants.