The mobile revolution has upended the world as we knew it in just a decade. So much so that today’s world has now become about better, faster, newer, and trendier.
Just as the industrial revolution brought about carbon emissions, cellphones and computers brought about electronic waste, referred to as e-waste.
‘E-waste’ is a term used to refer to electronic equipment that has been discarded without the intent of re-use.
According to the National Environment Management Authority, e-waste is the fastest growing problem in the waste stream due to its quantity, toxicity and carcinogenicity
This form of waste contains harmful toxins such as lead, chromium which, when inhaled or consumed through water and food can cause ill health. The waste also has hazardous components that affect the environment.
“E-waste is a big problem because there are no regulations governing their disposal. All stakeholders need to come together to tackle this problem and educate the public on how to manage e-waste,” says Martin Wellinga, a lecturer at the Eldoret National Polytechnic.
Kenya generates 17,350 tons of electronic waste annually but there are no comprehensive laws governing the management of this waste. NEMA has established laws under the Environmental Management Regulations that offer guidelines on how to recycle and handle e-waste.
Safaricom cares about dead electronics and provides a safe way to disposal. The company established e-waste drop-off centres at its retail shops countrywide as part of its efforts to conserve the environment, flying on the wings of the wisdom that a stitch in time saves nine. Since 2013, the company has collected over 632 tons of e-waste.
The company has also partnered with Eldoret National Polytechnic and Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) Centre to launch an e-waste collection center at the polytechnic. This is where all the old phones and computers are taken, for recycling and proper disposal.
“We want to be part of the solution to this problem that is threatening our ecosystem. We recognize that environmental considerations are not separate from our core business, but are an integral part of our overall business strategy,” Mercy Ndegwa, Head of Regulatory and Public Policy at Safaricom.