Understanding public knowledge and awareness of e-waste management practices in Maseru, Lesotho
E-waste is the fastest growing waste stream globally and its rapid increase has become a global concern. Due to the lack of e-waste legislation, public knowledge, recycling infrastructure, and framework for the e-waste take back or implementation of extended producer responsibility (EPR) in Lesotho, e-waste is often disposed of with general waste to the landfills, or end up in open burning or open dumping. The study aimed at establishing the level of knowledge and awareness of e-waste management practices amongst members of the public in Maseru, Lesotho. Door-to-door semi-structured interviews were conducted with selected households in certain Maseru suburbs. The surveys were conducted to determine current e-waste management practices and respondents’ awareness, knowledge and willingness around e-waste practices. Three-hundred-and-fifty-four (354) respondents were interviewed, and 92% response rate was achieved. The literature review also aimed to inform the context of the current study, focusing on “knowledge”, “awareness” and “willingness” aspects around waste in general, but also focusing on e-waste management practices. According to the results of the survey, knowledge of e-waste was very limited, with approximately 94% of respondents not being aware or having knowledge of what e-waste was. Approximately 88% of respondents indicated that they were willing to recycle their e-waste products, however they were not willing to pay the recycling fee. The recycling of e-waste is generally insufficient, with limited amounts of e-waste being recycled or re-sold. The current e-waste management practices established were the storage of e-waste in the households and disposal to the landfill together with general waste. Where e-waste was disposed of, practices were generally poor, with the majority of e-waste being disposed to own dumps, the Tsosane dump site or end up being burned. Many of the malpractices may be attributed to a lack of awareness and the absence of legislative and regulatory measures. Command-and-control measures, together with economic instruments should be considered to improve the management of e-waste in Maseru, Lesotho. E-waste management regulations should consider the polluter pays principle to electronic devices importers and manufactures through mandatory extended producer responsibility (EPR), and incentive schemes for producers of e-waste.