Electronic waste (E-waste) management in Kenya

In emerging countries, the rapid economic growth has led to a rise in the generation of electrical and electronic waste (e-waste) and Kenya is not an exception.

In a press release by UNEP, 2010, Kenya is estimated to generate e-waste that amount to 17350 tonnes per year. The e-waste include: refrigerators, TVs, personal computers, printers and mobile phones.

In Africa, E-waste is growing at 20% each year due to rising sales of electronic goods and this poses a major threat in environmental conservation and health risks associated with e-waste.

E-waste encompasses various forms of electrical and electronic equipment that are old or have ceased to be of any value to their owners. If these equipments are disposed and find their way in to the environment, they cause air pollution when burnt, become a waste management problem since they are non-biodegradable. Some of the equipments also contain toxic and radioactive elements which causes serious effects on humans, soil and animals. The equipments may block water and sewerage channels if not disposed well.

INESby / Pixabay

INESby / Pixabay

E-waste management companies in Kenya

One of the companies that are involved in e-waste management is ARF, a subsidiary company under Sintmond Group Limited. It partnered with Kenya Power to safely dispose bulbs, CFLs and incandescent, in a manner that is safe to both humans and environment. Located off Mombasa road, opposite City Cabanas Flyover, ARF collects used bulbs and separates the metal components of the bulb from the glass. The glass is crushed and sold to fiber glass manufacturers. The mercury contained in the CFLs is recovered and returned to bulb manufacturers and the aluminum component is sold to metal smelters for reuse.

East African Computer Recycling Company(EACR) in Mombasa, Kenya, was opened by HP. The company which will relocate its recycling facility to the capital Nairobi will be involved in sourcing e-waste from collection centers operating in the informal sector. The facility will do separation and dismantling of e-waste products including domestic appliances, electronic and mobile phones.

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Centre (WEEE Centre) is an offshoot of Computers For Schools Kenya (CFSK) and is located in highly populated Embakasi area in the east of Nairobi. The idea to come up with an e-waste management system came about when CFSK, a distribution of high-end reconditioned computers to learning institutions in Kenya, realized that some of the computers it had distributed were reaching end-of-life. The project was to recycle material from school computers but now WEEE Center has gone beyond schools has started to dismantle and separate electronic waste from corporate organizations, SMEs, NGOs, and the government and has future plans to source e-waste from other East African countries.

E-waste can cause great harm to the environment, but also it can be a great source of economic opportunities. These recycling facilities adhere highly to international health, safety and environmental standards and create job opportunities as well as containing hazardous materials from getting to our environment.