East African computer recycling

Kenya Computer recycling

Workers in the center dismantle and separate products into their different parts, including plastics and metals.

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.

One of those solutions is the East Africa Computer Recycling (EACR) center, which recycles used electronic equipment from local businesses and will move from Mombasa to serve Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city in 2013.

The EACR center is "a proven, sustainable, and scalable solution,” says Herve Guilcher, Environment Manager, Middle East Mediterranean and Africa, in HP’s Environment Business Management Organization. “The facility creates jobs and contributes to the economy. We’re pleased to see more and more local schools, businesses, and public sector organizations participating in the responsible management of their own equipment."

Herve leads an HP team that’s been working with enterprise customers, an NGO, a recycler, governments, and the general public to tackle end-of-life electronics management. Their work includes research, sensitizing stakeholders about concerns and solutions, and establishing recycling facilities like EACR when it’s viable.

Operating to international health and safety and environmental standards, EACR dismantles and separates used electronic equipment into parts including plastics and metals. Components requiring more complex recycling processes are sent to other facilities.

"The big lesson we’ve learned is the importance of the so-called informal sector—people who make a living collecting end-of-life electronics from businesses, residents, and off the streets. These individuals are responsible for bringing in approximately 20% of the end-of-life products to the recycling center."

HP is pursuing a broader strategy through the EACR center, aiming to educate people about the benefits of different approaches to product recycling. People are encouraged to deliver whole products to the facility to gain the greatest value. Formal break-up processes ensure that more value is extracted from collected materials, and they reduce possible human and environmental impact associated with the disposal of end-of-life products.

Herve describes the recycling facility as “a milestone in HP’s efforts to introduce a new approach to recycling in Africa that considers the environmental, health, and economic benefits.”