Thursday, September 16, 2010

KENYAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION REPORT

Kenya promises to address e-waste challenges

Written By:Allvoices, Posted: Tue, Sep 07, 2010


The Kenyan government will address challenges and opportunities brought about by rising electronic waste (e-waste), Environment and Mineral Resources Minister John Michuki has said.

Speaking at a national Stakeholders Workshop on Waste of Electrical and Electronic Equipment (eWaste) Nairobi 2010 on Tuesday, Michuki urged delegates government officials, representatives from National Environment Management Authority, computer software giants Microsoft, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and industry to assit the government in charting the way forward in terms of re-use, recycling and refurbishment of electronic goods.

This he said must be inline with Basel Convention Declaration and other International declarations.

The stakeholders called for urgent adoption of sound policies and clear guidelines on e-waste management in Kenya and the East African region. Microsoft's Regional Education Manager East and Southern Africa Mr. Mark Matunga called for concerted efforts in e waste management, which has proved to be a challenge to many African countries.

"There is an urgent need for the government and other stakeholders from the private sector to work towards streamlining the management of e waste, especially in the wake of increased turnover of electronic equipment on the continent. Kenya, like most Africa countries has no polices and strategies for dealing with e-waste and is therefore its population is greatly exposed to health hazards that are associated with e waste"," said Mr. Matunga.

Speaking at the workshop, UNEP Deputy Executive Director Angela Cropper spoke of the emerging global threats and opportunities provided by tackling growing e-waste challenge.

Acknowledging technology's potential for assisting with infrastructure and overcoming knowledge barriers, she noted innovation and technology can also play a role in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, green growth and assisting with climate change challenges.

Sher said UNEP is conducting extensive research on e-waste. UNEP launched a landmark report, Recycling - from E-Waste to Resources, in February 2010 that examined e-waste in 11 developing countries, including Kenya.

A recent baseline study done in 2008 that showed Kenya generates 3,000 tons of electronic waste per year.

The study predicts that the quantity is expected to increase as demand increases.

Internationally, China, India and Pakistan receive much of the world's e-waste. Worldwide, e-waste generation is growing by about 40 million tons a year.

"Raising recycling rates and re-using valuable metals and components, as well as increasing safe waste management and its regulation, is critical if countries and businesses are to transform mountains of e-waste into an asset", said Ms. Cropper

The meeting observed that increased pace of technological development and obsolescence, many appliances have a short life-expectancy and require sound re-use, recycling and disposal solutions.

Dumping or improper recycling of electronic waste causes serious environmental contamination, and while electronic goods are mostly used in the developed world, many end up in developing countries.

National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) Managing Director Ayub Macharia observed that increased pace of technological development and obsolescence meant many appliances have a short life-expectancy and require sound re-use, recycling and disposal solutions.

He said dumping or improper recycling of electronic waste causes serious environmental contamination, and while electronic goods are mostly used in the developed world, many end up in developing countries.

The stakeholders also discussed among other key topics, the need to identify and map the environmental impact of e-waste on Kenya, capacity constraints hindering the disposal of e-waste in Kenya and the collection system and recycling infrastructure of e-waste.

The meeting finalized guidelines on management of e-waste en route to an amendment to Kenya's waste laws and regulations in order to minimize the impacts and maximize the benefits of growing numbers of electronic products manufactured in Kenya or imported into the country.

E-waste consists of old electronic items such as computers, printers, mobile phones, refrigerators and televisions.

Increasing demand for electronic goods in Kenya and in the developing world means that levels of e-waste are growing fast and the hazardous substances such as heavy metals contained in most of these products are posing a serious risk to the environment and to human health.

However, e-waste also presents an economic opportunity through the recycling and refurbishing of discarded electronic goods and the harvesting of the precious metals they contain.

The forum stressed the need by all stakeholders to adopt t recommendations and guidelines on e-waste management and a review of the Kenyan government's own electronic waste disposal procedures.