Dell’s e-waste recycling project: helping East African small businesses grow


This week Dell announced East Africa’s first large-scale e-waste recycling hub. This initiative will help create the capacity to regulate, curb, and ultimately create jobs for Kenyans and the general East African region.

A UN report released in October suggests that e-waste has significant value, especially in developing countries. As such Dell, together with the newly-formed East Africa Compliant Recycling initiative in Nairobi, is running an e-waste recycling programme to further help independent small businesses grow.

According to Forbes, more than 40 collection points have been set up to encourage independent small businesses and entrepreneurs to buy e-waste from specially trained collectors in the region. By doing this, the recycling process could be controlled, and both hazardous and illegal materials could be regulated.

According to a recent report by Electronics Take Back Coalition, “A ton of used mobile phones, for example –- or approximately 6000 handsets — contains about 3.5 kilograms of silver, 340 grams of gold, 140 grams of palladium, and 130 kg of copper” … “the average mobile phone battery contains another 3.5 grams of copper.” This gives you a combined value of over US$15 000 at today’s prices.

Chairperson of the Kenyan Parliament’s Committee of Environment and Natural Resources Amina Abdala says:

“We’re looking at ensuring that e-waste is recycled in such a manner that ensures our people are not exposed to hazardous materials. And so basically, we’ve invested in getting out a regulation that is more proactive managing e-waste. With the regulation, its enforcement, and partnering with not only recyclers but producers, we’ll go a long way in addressing these challenges.”

The Electronics Take Back Coalition further states that more than 2.4-million tons of computers, monitors and such were disposed in 2010, of which only 27% was being recycled in the US alone.

For a few years the US hardware company has had a general standing against electronic waste. This is being done through various methods and regulation of recycling and in 2009, Dell became the first in the computer industry to ban the export of non-working electronics and e-waste to developing countries where it could lead to various environmental complications.

Image by David Morris via Flickr.

Jacques Coetzee: Staff Reporter


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