Port Elizabeth start-up revolutionising e-waste disposal

MARCH 9, 2016

An Eastern Cape technology start-up company is revolutionising electronic waste disposal and recycling in South Africa through a mobile unit dubbed the “e-shredder,” which will help private and public sector organisations to discard electronic products that have become unwanted, non-working or obsolete.  Once e-waste has been sanitised, the recycled components will be upcycled into consumer goods which in turn will provide job creation in arts and crafts sectors.

eWaste Technologies Africa (eTA), a client of the Seda Nelson Mandela Bay ICT Incubator (SNII) in Port Elizabeth, has a zero-to-landfill policy, which means the company is committed to finding ways for e-waste to be reused, recycled or repurposed.

In South Africa, e-waste makes up 5% to 8% of municipal solid waste.  E-waste is also growing at a rate three times faster than any other waste forms in the country.

“eWaste can be transformed into art. They will create jobs and the money made on these projects will be theirs. The non-profit organisation can make jewellery, clocks, and so much more,” said Enrico Vermaak, eTA Managing Director.

eWaste Technologies Africa recently repurposed a hard drive shredder into a mobile waste disposal unit. This means it can be transported to a client’s premises where it will provide secure hard drive destruction service.

The company will offer clients enhanced data sanitation services by ensuring that information on devices is rendered completely inaccessible even before the equipment in which it is stored is recycled or disposed of.

“We scrub all hard drives, ensuring our methods are compliant with the South African National Intelligence Agency requirements,” said Vermaak.

“If the information on old IT equipment isn’t sanitised or destroyed properly before disposal or sponsorship, it could cause massive reputational damage to your company.  Just imagine the implications of the unsanitised laptop of your CFO ending up in the hands of a competitor or local media,” he said.

“The mobile ewaste shredder will be taken to a company or individual’s premises to perform physical data destruction on hard drives and solid state drives. A certificate will be issued as proof that the hard drive was destroyed.”

eTA also offers on-site ewaste receptacles and collection services for the disposal of e-waste.

“Until recently very few companies have considered proper data sanitation or destruction as an option.  We have received old PC’s and laptops that were deemed ‘wiped’, and found very sensitive information on them.  Fortunately all devices that we receive are sanitised before further processing.”

Vermaak added that most large corporates buy laptops, desktops and tablets with an OEM Microsoft Operating System license included.  Typically these Operating Systems are upgraded to comply with company licenses.

“When the machine is disposed of or sponsored, the upgraded Operating System must be removed and replaced with the original OEM license. This may only be done with the original CD/DVD that was distributed with the device. As a Microsoft Registered Refurbisher (MRR), we will ensure that all licensing obligations are met for your peace of mind.”

Vermaak explained that the use of ewaste in art was a new project his company was busy with as part of their social responsibility. “It is a pilot project. We will sponsor the ewaste and tools to the community, who in turn make jewellery or office supplies such as business card holders or book holders.”

eWaste Technologies Africa is a member of the e-Waste Association of South Africa (eWASA), the body that oversees industry best practices and the latest recycling techniques.

What to ask for when choosing an IT asset disposal partner:

  • Do you sanitise data before it leaves my site?
  • Do you belong to any or all of the following associations:

o   Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa (IWMSA)

o   The e-Waste Association of South Africa (eWASA)

o   The South African e-Waste Alliance (SAEWA).

o   South African Police Service (SAPS) for a second hand goods license.

  • Do you landfill any of the IT assets?
  • Can you destroy the information at my premises (if legally required)?
  • Are you a Microsoft Registered Refurbisher (MRR)?

Image: EWASTE TO ART: eWaste Technologies Africa, a client of the Seda Nelson Mandela Bay ICT Incubator, started a pilot project with a Port Elizabeth based non-profit organisation and will donate e-waste that can be transformed to art. eWaste Technologies Africa managing director Enrico Vermaak (Centre), Jeanine Horn-Erasmus (Business Development Executive) and Shaun Philander (Junior Engineer) display some office supplies which has been made from electronic waste.