US computer firm intensifies battle against e-waste in Africa

Nairobi, Kenya (PANA) - Computer maker Hewlett Packard (HP) has established an electronic waste processing plant to deal with Kenya’s 3,000 tonnes of e-waste, including computer parts and mobile phone devices from other electronic companies in Africa, its top environmental executive said Friday.

The electronic waste processing plant will be converted into an Export Processing Zone (EPZ) facility next year, with the task of ensuring the safe separation and dismantling of spoilt Information Technology (IT) products which pose risks to both workers and the environment.

Herve Guilcher, HP Environment Director for Africa, said the East African Compliant Recycling (EACR) facility, originally based in Mombasa as a pilot project since 2011, was a new corporate social responsibility plan to help companies deal with the problem of unsafe disposal of electronic waste.

The fate of the collected electronic waste has been featuring prominently in debates around Africa, amid concern that hundreds of tonnes of carelessly-dumped electronic waste could be finding itself in the food chain poisoning from dump sites located near cities, mostly frequented by birds.

“This is the same convenient service that HP provides in more than 50 countries. Customers can simply go online and request the service, which includes the recycling of hardware from any vendor and is not dependent on the purchase of HP products,” Guilcher told PANA Friday.

The HP Environment executive said since its inception, the e-waste processing facilities has been treating e-waste products from HP business customers, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), government, informal sector and individual garbage collectors from dump sites.

More than 20% of the e-waste delivered to the plant were from the informal sector. Since its opening, the plant collected e-waste from some 151 IT customers, and in one month alone processed nearly eight tonnes of IT from Kenyan businesses and informal collection schemes.

“We are excited about the potential of the centre to drive leadership in e-waste recycling for Kenya, positioning the country as a hub for the management of e-waste in the broader East Africa region,” Guilcher said.

The HP executive said creating a sustainable solution for e-waste in Africa requires policies that encourage investment and infrastructure building, while taking into account local conditions and collaboration among governments, NGOs and academics.

They also require the engagement of importers of new and used products and recyclers to address the e-waste problems in Africa.

“We are working closely with other electronics manufacturers and we invite them to join an Alliance to work together on solving the problems of e-waste,” Guilcher said.

HP executives say the firm is seeking the recovery of value from all e-waste and creating markets for fractions of e-waste which currently have no market. Some of the products being recovered from e-waste could be re-used in the manufacture of new IT products.
-0- PANA AO/SEG 28Dec2012

28 décembre 2012 11:49:12

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