Safaricom launches recycling programme to combat e-waste

Communications service provider Safaricom Limited and partners have launched Kenya’s largest e-Waste recycling program in response to concerns about the environmental impact of Kenya’s counterfeit phone switch-off.

The initiative is partly steered by the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Centre (WEEE) and is said to have cost Kshs 20 million (US$236,000) and aimed to mop up any gadgets rendered unusable by the exercise.

The telecom’s CEO Bob Collymore said that a report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 2009 showed that Kenya is responsible for more than 17,000 tonnes of e-waste yearly.

“As a responsible corporate entity, we have taken this bold step to ensure that our customers are not exposed to the adverse effects associated with the improper disposal of e-waste,” he said.

The initiative is expected to aid consumers in depositing disused electronic equipment such as old phones, chargers, batteries, toys, laptop computers and music players.

Thirty six Safaricom retail centre and offices will be mandated with the collection of this equipment as WEEE collects them for disassembly.

WEEE in a statement said that they will disassemble the gadgets and use what can be recycled locally to make plastic chairs and poles, with the unrecyclable shipped out of the country to partners for disposal in an environmentally friendly way.

E-waste is harmful to the environment and, in extreme cases, bio-hazardous elements associated with e-waste have been known to have negative impacts on health.

Consequently a research body, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research (EMPA), stated that many developing countries, such as many in Africa, have not yet established adequate environmental protection standards.

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