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E-waste disposable a must for SA companies

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Dimension Data and Cisco Systems last year announced an e-waste take-back project with their key clients to manage e-waste and make a contribution to conserving the environment and further ensure that clients and employees are aware of environmental implications caused by not properly disposing IT products.

The majority of South African companies have not yet embraced environmental and legislative factors that pertain to e-waste. While it is a legal requirement in Europe, most businesses in South Africa and into the continent do not deem it necessary to implement IT recycling systems.

Organisations that sell IT products in other parts of the world have implemented a take-back and recycle program to properly dispose of surplus technology products that have reached the end of their life as per the legislative requisite.

‚Companies need a reliable asset disposition process that complies with all e-waste regulations, which in turn has a positive impact on their IT budgets. Legislative and environmental factors, combined with the competitive drive to implement the latest technology solutions, present companies with the challenge of managing their technology surplus. Most companies do not have the internal expertise to understand what disposal options are available, or even whether the options are within the guidelines set forth by environmental legislation,‚ says Jeff Jack head of network integration at Dimension Data.

The South African Post Office (SAPO) has recently completed the IT recycling process of its outdated equipment as part the organisation’s continued commitment to environmental management and sustainability development programme.

Terence Delaney, project manager at the SAPO says: ‚The importance of the environment is a national imperative and critical within the group. Our vision for the organisation is to be a recognised state owned enterprise, in environmental and sustainable development as per government’s mandate. The drive towards a more environmental friendly South Africa is a significant focus within the group and has been demonstrated by the introduction of the triple bottom line reporting framework for the 2008 financial results. This global drive requires all SAPO business units to provide monthly reports allocated to the environment in the management practices of the group.‚

‚Companies purchasing IT solutions, should plan for the future by selecting IT service providers who factor in e-waste disposal. Dimension Data along with Cisco Systems has a take-back programme which takes the hassle out of removing and recycling of all the old equipment,‚ continues Jack.

All product collected by Sims Lifecycle Services from Dimension Data South Africa is transported to the United Kingdom for recycling. Cisco Systems uses recyclers who harvest the material commodities contained in the equipment collected and returns those materials to the market where they are made into new products. Over 99% of the electronics are recycled.

The programme not only provides organisations with an IT asset disposal process but also benefits organisations in decreasing costs of storing outdated or used ICT equipment. Old equipment is disposed of in a manner that is compliant with all environmental legislation.

The take-back programme process is as simple as identifying the equipment that companies want to return to Cisco Systems, de-install, pack it and lastly contact Cisco Systems to arrange for pickup. The equipment that is returned to Cisco Systems through this program will be handled in an environmentally safe manner using processes that comply with all e-waste regulations. Upon completion of the recycling process, Cisco Systems will provide documentation about the deposition of the returned product and can provide a Certificate of Destruction upon request, which releases the business from any further liability for the equipment.

To date there is no recycling plant in South Africa that meets the policy that Cisco Systems has for recycling. In so far as the processes that are implemented to recover the batteries, heavy metals etc can be quite hazardous and more harmful to the environment and personnel involved than shipping the consolidated collections back to the United Kingdom.

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