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Kenya’s losing battle against e-waste

  • By Vivian Kwame
  • April 19, 2021
  • 0 Comment

Electronic waste (e-waste) has proven to be a fundamental challenge for Kenya over the years. Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Centre (WEEE Centre) states that Kenya generates an average of 3,000 tons of e-waste each year from electronic devices such as computers, monitors, printers, mobile phones, fridges and batteries just to mention a few. The situation is even worse globally.

In 2019, the world generated 53.6 million tons of electronic waste. This shows how e-waste is becoming the world’s fastest domestic waste stream mainly contributed by high consumption rates of electronic equipment, brief life span and few repair options. This is according to the UN’s Global E-waste Monitor 2020.

Unfortunately, the situation is not getting any better due to lack of e-waste awareness, along with poor separation and disposal systems. In most cases, the e-waste ends up being mixed with ordinary waste in dump sites and landfills. Another challenge is, there is not enough of electronic recycling going on. In Africa, only less than 0.1% e-waste gets recycled yearly, while Asia recycles 11.07% of its e-waste, while the Americas recycles 9.4% of its e-waste.

E-waste also has its negative effects on the environment thus influencing climate change. The poor disposals often lead to water and soil pollution, whereas burning it leads to air pollution.

To help address this, organisations such as the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Centre (WEEE Centre) are stepping up to fight these problems by taking a leading role in managing e-waste and spreading awareness about it.

Based in Nairobi Kenya, WEEE Centre provides e-waste collection, dismantling and automated processing services in Nairobi and several other major cities in Kenya. They primarily source e-waste from the private and public sector and through collection campaigns aimed at individual households.

“At WEEE Centre, we are always looking for every open opportunity to sensitize the Kenyan population to know more about e-waste as well as promote ways of participating in the WEEE Centre’s cause,” says Boniface Mbithi, the managing director.

The organisation recycles up to 40 tonnes of e-waste every month and have done over 10,000 tonnes since 2012. They also have 15 areas where they classify and recycle their waste.

More companies and Kenyans at large need to be conscious about the environment and how they treat it. Few organisations  cannot do all the heavy lifting and the policies and guidelines by the government are not enough. There is still a dire need for Kenya and the world at large to come up with solutions on how to address this growing waste stream before we all drown in it.