Legal View

Waste Bill unnoticed by industry

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The ICT industry has paid little attention to the Waste Management Bill, due to be gazetted later this year. However, its current form promises to have a far-reaching impact on ICT players and users.

The Bill was tabled for general comment by environmental affairs and tourism minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk, on 12 January, allowing 90 days for interested parties to respond.

The Bill applies a general duty for non-domestic waste holders to avoid the generation of waste. Where waste generation is unavoidable, the toxicity and amounts of waste generated must be minimised, re-used or recycled.

Additionally, the Bill provides opportunities for the ministry to specify requirements in terms of implementation and operation of waste minimisation programmes to producers of a product or class of product. This could include the percentage of products that must be recovered by the producer.

IT Association (ITA) GM Delanie Bezuidenhout says she is alarmed at the general lack of awareness within the industry.

"We have to recognise that the Bill, in its current state, has the potential to impact on the operational and financial health of our businesses and those of our customers. Larger companies may be able to afford technology lifecycle management outsourcing, but those who can't will need to deal with the process and cost of disposal themselves," she explains.

Bezuidenhout says the ITA will host a workshop next week to develop a consolidated industry response to the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT).

"There is no doubt this Bill is important in terms of protecting the environment and bringing SA in line with international norms. However, industry needs to be proactive in developing and suggesting solutions that are beneficial to all stakeholders. The alternative is to wait for DEAT to enforce its decisions on us."

The workshop will take place at the ITA's Randburg offices, on 3 April from 9am. The ITA will also host an e-waste conference in May.

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