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E-waste recycling plant launched in Athi River

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Environment, Water and Natural Resources Cabinet secretary Judi Wakhungu and EACR chief executive Robert Truscott at the e-waste plant in Athi River. Courtesy

Environment, Water and Natural Resources Cabinet secretary Judi Wakhungu and EACR chief executive Robert Truscott at the e-waste plant in Athi River. Courtesy 

By OKUTTAH MARK

Posted  Wednesday, December 11  2013 at  18:01

Kenya’s war on electronic waste has received a boost with the launch of a new recycling facility by the East African Compliant Recycling (EACR).

The plant was made possible by a public private partnership between Hewlett-Packard (HP), the German development finance institution DEG and EACR.

Located in Athi River, Machakos County, the facility has been established to separate and dismantle e-waste in an environmentally responsible fashion. E-waste includes end-of-life domestic appliances, computers, mobile phones and other electronics.

The collaboration also establishes the first registered collection system for e-waste in Kenya, which works with a network of registered informal sector workers.

“With the increasing consumption of electronic products, there is a real opportunity for job creation around proper e-waste management. E-waste is a resource and is safe when recycled correctly,” said Robert Truscott, EACR chief executive.

He added that they estimate that the venture will create at least a thousand new jobs in Kenya in the first year, with one job created per tonne of e-waste collected and treated every month.

The EACR’s treatment facility is fed by numerous collection points (CPs) around Kenya, each operating as a microbusiness, providing opportunities for entrepreneurship.

The EACR provides CPs with a shipping container, equipment (including personal safety equipment) and training from e-waste expert Margaret Bates from the University of Northampton, UK.

The CPs then buy end-of-life equipment from their network of registered informal sector workers.

Charles Kuria, managing director HP Kenya said, “We are scaling up our 2010 pioneering pilot project to bring the benefits of high standards of e-waste recycling to Kenya. The positive impact has been immediate; on opening day, the facility received a full container of products that would have been discarded at the roadside.”

The E-waste Solutions Alliance for Africa — a collaboration between Dell, HP, Nokia, Phillips and the recycler Reclaimed Appliances (UK) Ltd — has been working with key stakeholders and the government to develop the principles and processes needed for responsible collection and recycling of e-waste.

The business model — featuring the EACR recycling facility, CPs and informal collectors — ensures the value of the materials recovered is passed on to create jobs and wealth, and provides an alternative to unsafe recycling practices.