WEEE Centre is at the forefront in ensuring that E-Waste in Kenya is safely disposed. It was started to help in the managing of E-waste for a safe environment. It has well equipped facilities that are used to handle the ewaste in a safe way without polluting the environs.
"Kenyans have to learn and practice to separate and dispose off their electronic waste in the safest way possible. It's no longer appropiate to mix electronics with other wastes."
Kenya, like other developing countries, lacks the capacity to dispose of the discarded items, which contain substances that have been known to cause diseases and poison water sources and the soil. Yet in Kenya, the e-waste draft Bill of 2013 has been stuck in Parliament for more than five years, which makes one wonder why the government isn’t interested in legislating policies to tackle the fast ticking e-waste time bomb.
The International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) estimates that there will be a surge in solar panel disposal in the early 2030s, and that by 2050, there will be 60 to 78 million cumulative tonnes of photovoltaic panel waste globally. Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) is one of the few registered companies dealing with e-waste recycling.
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The production and use of Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) continues to grow in both developing and developed countries therefore increasing the amount of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) at its End-of-Life (EoL). This is exacerbated by the rapid growth and development in the Information and Communications Technology industry.
The growth in WEEE has brought a number of challenges including introducing effective management practices that are environmentally sound to reduce its negative impact on human health and the environment as a result of pollution. Management of WEEE in most developing countries including Kenya is done through the informal sector and this poses a great challenge.
Yet these substances are so critical to the devices that they cannot function without them. Lead, for instance, is effective as a solder while flame retardants keep computers from bursting into flames as we type. But for all their usefulness, they come with serious health implications.
Many electronic gadgets, including cell phones, computers, televisions, HiFi systems, refrigerators, and a host of other electronic appliances are manufactured using a variety of harmful substances including lead, hexavalent chromium, phthalates and brominated flame retardants.
The heavy metals or chemicals can cause diseases such as cancers and skin irritation in people who get into contact with them. Also, the chemicals can leak into rivers whose waters are used for irrigation, posing further challenges.
So what options do developing countries like Kenya, which lack proper waste management regulations, have? One option that some people have already taken is informal e-waste recycling. Those involved in the trade collect the gadgets, separate the plastic, motherboards, batteries and copper wire for sale and then burn those that are of no value to them. But there are concerns that such primitive recycling techniques of burning the materials such as cables to extract copper expose those involved to toxic fumes, which can lead to respiratory illnesses
As the sheer volume of waste and the challenges of managing a steadily growing stream of e-waste remain daunting, a fast emerging solar energy industry is another sector that poses a huge threat to the already monumental challenge of e-waste disposal. The International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) estimates that there will be a surge in solar panel disposal in the early 2030s, and that by 2050, there will be 60 to 78 million cumulative tonnes of photovoltaic panel waste globally.
Then there are irresponsible companies that auction their electronic waste to backstreet recyclers who pick only a few components then tossthe rest into the environment.