Kenya is expected to be opening a new e-waste recycling plant in Nairobi before the end of next year.
The new factory will be a collaboration between East African compliant Recycling (EACR), DEG (Deutsche Investitions-und Entwicklungsgesellschaft) and HP. The e-waste management system will feature collection, recycling to global standards and resource recovery.
DEG is one of the largest European development finance institutions that aims to establish and expand private enterprise structures in emerging countries.
The project will commence with an initial pilot of four collection points each working with a network of registered informal sector workers.
“We firmly believe that e-waste management holds opportunities in skills transfer and revenue generation that can be turned into drivers for incorporating Africa’s informal recycling networks into economically, ethically and environmentally sustainable systems,” said Charles Kuria, MD, HP Kenya.
Kuria said training the informal sector to proper collection, dismantling and recycling of e-waste is important for Kenya to take advantage of on revenue opportunities whilst ensuring e-waste management can operate as a self-sustaining system.
According to Robert Truscott, CEO, EACR, participants in all aspects of the recycling system will be trained to ensure devotion to globally recognized health and environmental standards.
“It has been a lifelong ambition to establish sustainable and profitable e-waste recycling in Africa, where the amount of e-waste is expected to grow and modern recycling methods are rarely established. There is a real opportunity for job creation around proper e-waste management,” said Truscott.
According to UNEP, in 2010 Kenya generated 11,400 tons of e-waste from refrigerators, 2,800 tons from TVs, 2,500 tons from personal computers, 500 tons from printers and 150 tons from mobile phones.
ICT is being extensively used in the education, health, industrial, trade and communication sectors. Private sector has been installing heavy computing equipment and data centers, mainly mobile operators, banks, and manufacturing sector companies and now with the laptop project, it is expected to increase more.
The European Environment Agency and United Nations Environment Programme estimate that 40-50 million tons of electrical equipment waste is produced each year globally.
For most of sub-Saharan African countries, the lack of a sustainable e-waste management infrastructure means that e-waste is collected and recycled in crude methods, causing the release of toxic chemicals to the environment and putting those refurbishing and dismantling e-waste at risk.
In October 2011, HP opened the East African Computer Recycling Company (EACR) in Mombasa, Kenya, in partnership with Camara Education, an ‘Education through ICT’ NGO working with disadvantaged communities in Africa.
Kenya generates thousands of tons of electronic waste per year – waste that on the one hand can cause great harm to the environment, but on the other, can be used as a resource and an economic stimulus. EACR is operating Kenya’s first e-waste recycling facility, operating to international health, safety and environmental standards and establishing a local, sustainable IT e-waste recycling industry. Until now, the facility received end-of-life IT from business and public sector customers, as well as from the informal sector, assessing the waste for refurbishment or recycling. EACR offers its workers advice on handling e-waste containing hazardous materials such as lead and cadmium.