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Nyeri residents encouraged to embrace e-waste system

Nyeri residents have been urged to embrace proper disposal of electrical and electronic waste, also popularly known as e-waste.

In an interview with KNA, James Kimani, the Technical Coordinator for the Department of Solid Waste in Nyeri County, noted the emergence of e-waste as one of the fastest-growing waste components and expressed concern over the poor disposal of electrical waste in the county.

According to Mr. Kimani, many Nyeri residents were still not conversant with proper waste segregation and were warned of health and environmental hazards resulting from improper disposal of the e-waste.

“We are working on starving our dumpsites of e-waste by enlightening the public on where to dump the electronic waste since we recognized that our informal workers may pick up toxic elements when they burn the e-waste at dump sites,” he said.

According to the global e-waste monitor report of 2020, more than 53.6 million metric tonnes of e-waste from old phones, fridges, chargers, batteries, laptop and desktop computers, printers, televisions, and other household items that use electricity are produced globally. The report noted that if left unchecked, the numbers could double to 120 million tonnes by 2050.

Further, Kenya’s annual electronic waste generation grew from 3,000 metric tonnes in 2012 to 51,000 metric tonnes in 2021.

Globally, the report said, only 17.4 per cent of e-waste is managed appropriately. Mr Kimani said that as a mitigation measure, the department had partnered with Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), an e-waste collection centre, to sensitize the public on e-waste collection, safe disposal, and metal recovery to commercialize the waste.

“Through the WEEE centre we want to ensure that companies, including those who make electronic products, follow a producer-based principle where they also keep track of where their trash goes,” he stated.

On his part, WEEE centre Nyeri coordinator Davis Oburi, said that they are encouraging residents and institutions to participate in e-waste management as a way of promoting what he termed as a circular economy. Mr Oburi said that, just like scrap metal, most of the e-waste generated could be repurposed to ensure that nothing goes to waste. The county coordinator noted that the approach will ensure that every part of a gadget is accounted for to avoid it ending up on a regular dumpsite or in illegal trade.

“We have set out to work with existing waste handlers and collectors to create job opportunities in the same way as those who collect scrap metals, plastics, and tetrapack papers and cartons to sell to recycling companies. We noted that individuals, entrepreneurs, and institutions rarely know what to do with electronic waste, which is very hazardous, so we have also brought them on board in a bid to bring about change,” Oburi explained.

By Wangari Mwangi and Yvette Kimani

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