Sunday, October 25, 2020

MP Gaborone warns about disposal of dangerous waste

Despite Botswana’s domestication of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions governing disposal of hazardous chemicals and substances, the majority of Batswana still prefer taking used batteries to waste sites or open-space sites, said Member of Parliament Olebile Gaborone.

Gaborone said the wanton disposal of batteries and other items, such as used fluorescent bulbs, televisions, fridges or lead-acid-accumulators powering motor vehicles, is very dangerous since they contain heavy metals or strong acids toxic to human and animal health, plants and the environment.

Speaking to The Telegraph during the South-East-North Constituency Day held in Tlokweng, Gaborone said: “For the best results, battery waste should not be mixed with other wastes, including non-hazardous domestic waste to avoid cross contamination. Minimize commutation at household level by keeping the batteries out of reach of children to avoid contact while awaiting collection or delivery to the nearest dealer. Once the life span of the battery is over, take it to the nearest dealer who may refund a deposit or a top up for a new one.

“Avoid burying and throwing battery waste in the bush or reusing for other alternatives apart from the sole purpose. Since batteries are made up of hazardous components, take them to the nearest dealer in exchange for a deposit or designated landfills. There are some companies in this country that accept used batteries at a normal deposit. These companies in turn will send the waste, especially the lead acid batteries, for recycling to other countries.”

The MP said communal awareness of health hazards association with improper waste disposal, environmental pollution, unhealthy diets, alcohol and substance abuse, including other risks underpin how knowledge is power.

Wellness Days have been designed to enhance this awareness and access to health services in line with the Vision 2016 goals of a “Compassionate, Just & Caring Nation”.

The Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, which came into force in 1992 and 2004, deal with the Control of Trans-boundary Movements of Hazardous wastes and their Disposal; Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade and Persistent Organic Pollutants, respectively.

Waste Age Electronics Managing Director, Bonatla Tsholofelo, said electronic waste (e-waste) can be classified as white goods, household appliances such as air conditioners, dishwashers, refrigerators; brown goods, TV’s, camcorders, cameras; grey goods, computers, printers, facsimile machines or scanners.

Tsholofelo said hazardous materials in e-waste include Lead, Arsenic, Mercury, Cadmium, Selenium, Chromium and Cobalt.

Medical-based scientific research has shown the chronic damage to the nervous system, digestive tract, teeth, tongue, kidneys, lungs, liver and gums. To avoid contamination accidents, e-waste should be stored safely insulated from weather conditions, refurbished to extend life span or taken to licensed (e-waste) dealers.

“Do not mix e-waste with other trash; do not burn, do not bury, do not take to a landfill. Waste Age Electronics, a wholly citizen owned company, has a service level agreement (SLA) with South African companies. We collect e-waste currently from corporate clients for onward transportation for final processing in South Africa for a fee. Although our primary focus since establishment in 2011 is on corporate, we are planning to establish collection points to carter for individuals”, he said.

Prostrate and Breast Cancer, Stroke Awareness and Speech Therapy were some of the topics presented by experts on the Wellness Day whose theme was: “A Healthy Lifestyle is My Responsibility”.

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