E- waste and the need for secure disposal mechanisms

In a report released by Unep last year, global e-waste generation is growing by about 40 million tonnes yearly. It illustrates how electronic gadgets contribute to this menace.

In Kenya, for example, the annual estimates of e-waste include 11,400 tonnes from refrigerators, 2,800 tonnes from TVs, 2,500 tonnes from PCs and 150 tonnes from mobile phones.

Other countries like China and USA produce about 2.3 million tonnes and 3 million tonnes of electronic waste, respectively.

Unep predicts an increase in e-waste in the future as sales of electronic gadgets plummet against lack of comprehensive mechanisms of recycling, proper disposal and general handling of e-waste.

Out of the millions of tonnes of e-waste generated globally, a paltry 10 per cent is recycled, according to the United Nations Environmental Programme.

The case for electronic waste is exacerbated in developing countries when traders and some companies from the West and East dump their e-waste illegally in the Third World.

A recent report by Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) reveals how some UK companies are exporting e-waste to West African nations.

Arrival of obsolete and old electronics into the African markets from abroad puts the continent in the dilemma of handling the resulting e-waste, given its low level of recycling and e-waste handling technologies.

The electronic waste from EU countries flows through two common chains; the business to business and business to consumer chains.

Companies and business agents dealing in imported second hand electronics or refurbished gadgets might not realise that they are part of the chain that could be trafficking electronic waste.

Electronic waste in Africa has a genesis in fake and substandard electronic products whose life is short. Fake electronics drive consumers into frequent replacements, hence leading to a pile-up of discarded gadgets.

Due to the activities of unscrupulous manufactures and traders, most African markets are awash with fake electronic gadgets. There are millions of fake phones, TVs and other consumer gadgets.

Source: The Daily Nation


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