Living Example: Establishing recycling in Kenya

Problem

As the African continent’s economy grows, ownership of electronic products like mobile phones, TVs, and computers is increasing exponentially. Solutions that help people responsibly dispose of used electronics are urgently needed.

Vision

Introduce a new approach to recycling in Africa through a sustainable, replicable model that delivers environmental, health, and economic benefits.

Solution

  • In 2010, we pioneered East Africa Computer Recycling (EACR) in Mombasa, which was the first IT recycling facility operating to international standards in Kenya. We learned that we needed to involve the informal sector, as they brought back 20% of the equipment, and we needed recycler and finance partners to scale up.
  • In late-2013, we collaborated with the German Investment and Development Corporation and EACR to open a new recycling facility in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city, renamed East African Compliant Recycling. It is the first large scale recycling facility in East Africa and the first take-back system for end-of-life products in Kenya. Recycling takes place at its hub, there is a network of collection points, and people who do the collecting benefit from the value of materials recovered.

Impact

Environmental Progress: EACR dismantles and separates used electronic equipment into parts including plastics and metals. Formal break-up processes ensure that more value is extracted from collected materials, and components requiring more complex recycling processes are sent to other facilities. This reduces possible environmental impact associated with the disposal of end-of-life products.

Economic Progress: Our innovative business model encourages entrepreneurship and creates jobs for local residents. As of April 2014, there are 4 collection points across the country, with plans for a total of roughly 50. The collection points operate as microbusinesses, purchasing end-of-life equipment from a network of trained and registered informal collectors. They then sell this equipment to the EACR recycling facility for processing.

Human Progress: EACR’s rigorous training, and operation to international health and safety standards reduces possible human impact associated with the disposal of end-of-life products.