Kenya opens first e-waste management plant

NAIROBI, KENYA – Computers For Schools Kenya (CFSK) has opened East Africa’s first e-waste management plant in Embakasi, Kenya, to handle the region’s electronic recycling needs.

The project, undertaken in collaboration with the Nairobi City Council and the local Embakasi community, will dismantle and separate electronic waste from Kenya and eventually from Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

The workers will be properly equipped and educated on how to handle and separate metals such as aluminum and copper, which can be recycled locally, while motherboards will be shipped to Asia and Europe for disposal, said CFSK CEO Tom Musili. Apart from training, the workers will be provided with heavy duty gloves, goggles and dust masks to protect them from injury.

“The management plant has a very safe working environment,” said Musili. “We have started in a small way, but eventually we will handle the e-waste from [the whole] East Africa region.”

“For the monitors that are considered toxic,” he added, “CFSK is shipping them to Norway for recycling. The Norwegian government supports recycling of 50,000 tons of monitors from CFSK every year. The monitors are sent to Fair International, which has the expensive equipment required to dispose of the monitors.”

Musili is scheduled to visit companies in the U.S. to learn how they handle the recycling of motherboards and monitors in order to replicate the processes in the Embakasi plant.

CFSK has been promoting local innovation by recycling CRT (cathode ray tube) computer monitors and converting them to affordable TV sets. The organization has signed a memorandum of cooperation with the Kenya National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA), to develop sustainable models for the management of electronic waste. NEMA is yet to develop a law governing e-waste management in Kenya.

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