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Dell joins Africa e-waste alliance

Dell will join members of the E-Waste Solutions Alliance for Africa in Nairobi today to mark the opening of East Africa Compliant Recycling the region’s first large-scale e-waste recycling facility and the creation of a new e-waste business to be supported by a regulatory model tailored for developing countries.

The new regulatory model was developed by Kenyan officials and representatives from non-governmental organizations and the IT and e-recycling industries. The hub was designed by industry, in collaboration with policymakers.

A practical, sustainable regulatory approach

Developing regulations from Kenya’s National Environment Management Authority will help generate capacity for the new e-waste hub by requiring electronics companies to meet certain thresholds for e-waste collection and treatment.

Underscoring the regulatory framework is the recognition that, particularly in developing countries, e-waste has monetary value. That value, combined with the lack of a sustainable e-waste recycling infrastructure in East Africa, likely would have abated the effectiveness of common regulatory approaches to funding and managing e-waste collection and recycling, such as import fees. Those means also could make computing less affordable for Kenyan citizens and public and private-sector organizations.

Other African nations have monitored the development of new regulatory model, with a view to replicating the approach.

An innovative business model that creates jobs

At the heart of the business model are shipping container-housed collection points located throughout Kenya. Each collection point functions as its own independent small businesses, purchasing e-waste from newly-trained individual collectors. To date, four collection points have been established two funded by Dell with at least forty more planned.

Once a shipping container is filled to capacity, its contents are resold to the main hub where the e-waste will be sustainably processed into material fractions and sold back to the technology industry. Each stage of the model is designed to be profitable for participants, from individual collector to collection point to hub.

In addition to protecting the environment, the model is aimed at creating thousands of green jobs at the facility and across supporting logistics and collection networks, in part by converting existing informal-sector e-waste ‚”pickers‚” into trained and legitimately-compensated e-waste collectors. Dell and others have invested in training programs to educate workers on the safe collection and recycling of e-waste.

A separate Dell-sponsored project launched last month already has micro financed and created jobs for 27 women from Nairobi’s Mukuru informal settlement, known as the Mukuru slums. Following the satisfactory completion of a training course, women use funds made available through mobile technology to purchase and resell waste. In its first two weeks, women participating in the Dell-Mukuru collected 1.5 containers of e-waste, which was resold to the new recycling hub.

Prior to the program, women from Mukuru often used unsafe and unhealthy means to collect and resell e-waste to the informal market.

Advancing Dell’s Legacy of Good 2020 goals

Dell is a global leader in the collection and recycling of e-waste. As part of its 2020 Legacy for Good Plan, the company recently set goals to recover 2 billion pounds of electronics and reuse more than 50 million pounds of recycled-content plastics in its products by 2020. Integral to both goals is the ability to access e-waste in developing countries, using methods that do not put people or the environment at risk.


The Honorable Amina A. Abdalla, MP, Chairperson, Committee of Environment and Natural Resources, Kenyan Parliament

‚”We’re looking at ensuring that e-waste is recycled in such a manner that ensures our people not exposed hazardous materials. And so basically, we’ve invested in getting out a regulation that is more proactive managing e-waste. With the regulation, its enforcement, and partnering with not only recyclers but producers, we’ll go a long way in addressing these challenges.‚”

Alice Akinyi Kaudia, Environment Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources

‚”We are seeing green technology is good business sense, not just because it creates profits, but if the persons working for such a company are of higher health status because of a good environment, then productivity also goes up. We want to create jobs, particularly for our youth. So it’s a triple way: We have a clean environment, we have jobs created, we have industrial growth and economic growth of the country.‚”

Jean Cox-Kearns, Director of Compliance, Dell Takeback

‚”It is so exciting to see this sustainable model be implemented on the ground in Nairobi, creating green jobs and implementing a solution that deals with e-waste being generated both in Kenya and the greater East African Region, and providing environmentally sound management of e-waste collected.‚”


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