Ismail 'Changez' Ndzai, a Marketing & Sales team volunteer, signs off on the e-waste collection in Mombasa.

Ismail Ndzai, a Marketing & Sales team volunteer with Camara Kenya, signs off on the e-waste collection in Mombasa.

The issue of e-waste and how it is disposed of is a huge worldwide problem that needs to be urgently addressed. A recent Al Jazeera documentary by journalist Mike Anane and filmmaker Cosima Dannoritzer, exposed the level of the problem in countries such as Ghana and Nigeria, where tonnes of e-waste are arriving into ports each day and being dumped all over the country, causing massive contamination of land and damaging the health of children who trawl these highly dangerous and toxic dumping grounds in search of any valuable materials that can be sold.

According to the film, around 60% of this waste comes from Europe. As a planet, we generated 50 million tonnes of e-waste in 2012. The EPA in the United States estimates that the stream of e-waste is growing 2-3 times the rate of any other source of waste. It’s expected to climb to 65 million tonnes or more per year by 2017.

These figures are a startling reminder of the problem of e-waste, one that doesn’t tend to get a huge amount of news coverage in the developed world. However, often the problem isn’t simply down to negligence, as Dannoritzer alluded to:

“One of the most revealing conclusions for me personally was that e-waste is not merely a matter of negligence and lack of awareness, but that we are dealing with a complex chain of corruption and failing controls which starts in Europe and the US and reaches all way across the globe, wherever richer countries are consuming and forcing their waste on poorer countries.”

Bearing all of the above in mind, it goes without saying that countries in Africa need to be extremely vigilant about where and from whom they take recycled equipment. Any equipment that enters a country needs to be of a high standard, and also needs to be disposed of correctly at the end of its life.

It is against this backdrop of e-waste pollution that Camara has partnered with Dell and the EACR (East African Compliant Recycling Company) to set up the first Camara / Dell / EACR Collection Point for e-Waste at our Hub in Mombasa, Kenya.

Camara's Africa Operations Manager, Philip McAllister (far right), with the EACR & Camara team in Mombasa

Camara’s Africa Operations Manager Philip McAllister (far right), with the EACR & Camara teams in Mombasa

A team of collectors, managed by Camara’s e-Waste Manager Ali Swadri, will source and collect e-waste in all shapes and sizes from businesses and schools as well as private individuals, with a focus on computers and monitors. Camara aims to be a net recycler of e-waste in Kenya, recycling more computers than it has imported into Kenya.

The 20-foot container is fitted with a weighing scales so that collectors can be paid fairly for what they bring in. The next step is disassembling equipment so that materials can be broken down into smaller parts or fractions until the point when the container is full and ready to be collected by the EACR. Each container collected is replaced with an empty container, and the process continues. Camara aims to dispatch as many as one container of e-waste per week going forward, an ambitious but achievable target. The revenues from e-wasted material will be reinvested into the program.

You can view a video showcasing the work the EACR and Dell are doing in Kenya here.

Camara Kenya would like to thank Dell for facilitating this partnership and for supporting the project from beginning to end.