Kenya Faces an E-Waste Time Bomb

Posted on 20 September 2007. Filed under: Environment, ICT |

The world is consuming more and more electronic products every year and the amount of electronic waste discarded globally has skyrocketed recently, with 20-50 million tonnes generated every year! This has caused a dangerous explosion in electronic scrap (e-waste) containing toxic chemicals and heavy metals that cannot be disposed of or recycled safely. But this problem can be avoided with the help of electronic consumers and manufacturers. Greenpeace International is at the forefront in pressing leading electronic companies to change; to turn back the toxic tide of e-waste.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of old computers and mobile phones are dumped in landfills or burned in smelters. Thousands more are exported, often illegally, from the Europe, US, Japan and other industrialized countries, to Asia and Africa. There, workers at scrap yards, some of whom are children, are exposed to a cocktail of toxic chemicals and poisons.

20061204_monitors.jpgObsolete computer monitors are stacked ready for shipment.

In its October 2005 report, “The Digital Dump: Exporting Re-use and Abuse to Africa,” the Basel Action Network found that e-wastes are entering African port cities such as Lagos, Mombasa, Dar es Salaam, and Cairo in shiploads. Collecting information for that report, witnesses saw huge piles of e-waste throughout the Nigerian countryside. “We saw people using e-waste to fill in swamps,” Puckett recalls. “Whenever the piles got too high, they would torch them.” Residents complained about breathing the toxic fumes, but the dumps were never cleaned up. “We saw kids roaming barefoot over this material, not to mention chickens and goats,” which are later eaten by residents.

gsm-waste.jpg
The situation at home in Kenya is reaching crisis proportions, the notorious Dandora Dumpsite in Nairobi’s Eastlands area, is choking with electronic waste ranging from obsolete television sets, computers, and fridges to mobile phones and batteries – all containing highly toxic substances. Residents surrounding the area risk contracting cancer, respiratory and skin diseases due to poisonous by-products namely lead, cadmium and mercury from electronic waste. Apart from waste discarded by Kenyans, the country also received hundreds of container loads of e-waste each month from developing countries disguised as ‘donations’.

Although there are environmental laws in Kenya that hold to account those generating toxic waste, and with the failure to comply with waste disposal standards carrying a penalty of Sh500,000 or a prison term of 18 months, Kenya faces continues to face environmental and health problems due to indiscriminate, unregulated and trade in dumping of harmful electronic waste. The prospects of this threat is made worse when one considers that Kenya is at the verge of an IT revolution and the mobile phone industry is currently at more than seven million active lines.

The rate at which these mountains of obsolete electronic products are growing will reach crisis proportions unless electronics corporations that make mega profits from making and selling these devices face up to their responsibilities. It is possible to make clean, durable products that can be upgraded, recycled, or disposed of safely and don’t end up as hazardous waste in third word country’s dumpsites.

In order to keep Kenya at the forefront in fighting this problem, please read and discover more about e-waste and it has evolved to be the fastest growing component of the municipal solid waste stream because manufacturers are developing products that have a shorter lifespan.

Also read and understand what happens after electronic waste is thrown away and how they end up in Nairobi, Lagos and other third world countries.

Greenpeace International have also released their ‘Guide to Greener Electronics’ which ranks 14 top manufacturers of computers and mobile phones according to their policies on toxic chemicals and recycling. That is a must read before you buy your next mobile phone or computer. Readers may also take their time to read suggested solutions to this worldwide problem and what you can personally do in order to alleviate this problem that is apparently hurting the poor, especially children.

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26 Responses to “Kenya Faces an E-Waste Time Bomb”

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[…] Kenya enviro news blog, a thorough look at the problem of e-waste in Kenya, stating that it is a time-bomb, and set to get […]

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[…] Kenya Faces an E-Waste Time BombThe world is consuming more and more electronic products every year and the amount of electronic waste discarded globally has skyrocketed recently, with 20-50 million tonnes generated every year! This has caused a dangerous explosion in … […]

this is gayyyyy

I think the timebomb will go off once kenyans start replacing their tvs for more sophisticated ones as the minister for environment puts it.

very interesting point of view, has never been conceived of this
[url=http://aldebaran.blogsavy.com/]bewitch[/url]

how much would it cost to purchase 2000 of these scrap moniters

100 % Eco Friendly recycling

In this world we have become as humans consumers. We consume every thing.

The problem arises when we forget that what we consume, then throw away, not all of our waste gets properly disposed of.

Not seen, not thought of right?

When our electrical items fail we just throw them away not thinking of where they go.

Here is how you can insure that when you discard your items, your items do not land up in a land fill, or over seas just to pollute a more poverty stricken area:

Make sure that your recycler only uses a complete Eco friendly down stream for the materials being recycled.

This means that when you discard a TV or old computer it only goes to processes that will be completely Eco and human friendly.

Recycling should not be at the cost of our environment or the cost of human rights and safety.

We as a company could make hundreds more on these materials we collect for free, if we just turn our heads and say, not seen not thought of.

We feel that if we can prove that recycling can be done in the cleanest safest way possible so that our environment, and the people who live in it, are not injured in the process, we might just show that recycling can be a culture not a cost.

If we as recyclers do not take this philosophy, then we our selves will pose an environmental risk instead of a solution.

Some times a little less profit can still benefit everyone in the process.

Recycle please, but do it completely Eco friendly.

Besides that………….profit will not matter after a while…….we will end up polluting our selves out of a planet in the long run if we do not start practicing this soon.

Thank you
Mike Dolbow
CEO / Green Planet Solutions Inc.
http://www.atotalgps.com

Hey there!

Interested. Do you know a CBO in Kenya who’se advocating against E-Waste?

Ruud Elmendorp
Africa correspondent
http://www.videoreporter.nl

Hey Kenyana and the neighbouring county like Tanzani and Uganda it is time to be up and to let the
western county to see our county as a dampo for the things that they fill they are not going to use it in
their counties.You know what my fellow African,
It is time to say that it is enough and lets have our own good that we could use in which they have no efect to our body and the area surrounding us

Hey Kenyana and the neighbouring county like Tanzania and Uganda it is time to be up and not to let the
western county to see our county as a dampo for the things that they fill they are not going to use it in
their counties.You know what my fellow African,
It is time to say that it is enough and lets have our own good that we could use in which they have no efect to our body and the area surrounding us

Excellent site, keep up the good work

Iam a resident of Dandora estate Nairobi Kenya where the largest dump is located.outbreak of bad diseases is experience due to toxic fumes from the dumpsite plz heip us befor we crash

Thanks for the step you took to initiate the firt e.waste in embakasi.Iam a student in JKUAT taking masters in an environmental course and researching on e.waste.Link me with all those dealing with the same to see whether we can contribute to avoid the e.waste bombshell.Thank you God bless.

Thanks for the step you took to initiate the first e.waste in embakasi.Iam a student in JKUAT taking masters degree in an environmental engineering course and researching on e.waste status in Kenya.Please Link me with all those dealing with the same to see,so that, we can contribute to avoid the e.waste time bomb shell.Thank you very much may the almight God bless.

THIS IS NOT A GOOD PROJECT FOR THOSE WHO ARE PRACTICING.

I nd 10 tonnes of e-waste in kenya in 24hrs ASAP.

The Kenyan govt needs to be firm when it comes to law enforcement ant they should also fund and encourage all sectors to come up with recycling plants, there is still potential in all these WEEE

East Africa is under a great threat from this electronic waste.I was proposing that we have collection centers where this electronic gadgets will be collected,dismantled then properly disposed or recycled.I have been having this idea for a long time but not known the right way to channel it.This can be done in form of projects in the rural area like what we see for scrap metals.I myself am very much willing to kick of this project in my town ie Nyahururu.Please advice me on the best way possible to do this and also shed some light on this.
Am an engineering student at the University of Nairobi fighting for a green Kenya and the whole world at large.Thank you GOD BLESS KENYA

Already we have an initiative on dealing with e waste management. anyone intrested to link up with me at bot.centerx@gmail.com

heavy and lovely task

Would like to ask the same question as Ruud Elmendorp has in 2008, the Nairobi WEEE Centre in Embakasi is a good initiative, but its not exactly a community group that advocates against e-waste. Also, I’ve been told that e-waste has more or less disappeared from the Dandora dump site, which I find it very hard to believe because of recent media attention for the exact opposite. Does anyone know where exactly in Dandora there will be piles of e-waste? Thanks for any answers!

Awesome! Its actually awesome article, I have
got much clear idea concerning from this post.

Magnificent web site. A lot of helpful info here.
I am sending it to several friends ans also sharing in delicious.
And of course, thanks on your sweat!


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