KENYA – Meru University of Science and Technology (MUST) has launched an e-waste management project to boost environmental conservation.

MUST Vice Chancellor Romanus Odhiambo says the project aims to raise public awareness and engage stakeholders on e-waste and recycling and train as many people as possible.

The project has been funded by the German Development Corporation, which is working closely with the European Union and other private partners in e-waste management.

According to Odhiambo, the institution has already trained 175 technicians who will be graduating in June and are expected to use their expertise in their villages and eventually the entire country.

He said the graduates will double up as agents for the University’s collection center as it continues to scale up the project.

“According to the global e-waste monitor report of 2020, 53.6 million metric tonnes of e-waste were produced each year and if left unchecked this could double to 120 million tonnes by 2050,” Odhiambo said during the launch.

“We are the first university in the country to come up with a model where resources are used and recovered rather than disposed of at the end of life.”

“Globally, only 17.4% of e-waste is managed appropriately,” he said, adding that e-waste is expected to increase from 5% to 8% due to the increased use of ICT equipment globally.

The university will strive to practice a circular economy whose intention is to produce no waste and instead, products, parts, and materials are used, cared for, repaired, reused and recycled as much as possible in an environmentally friendly manner, notes Odhiambo.

“This is intended to be the preferred alternative to the dominant economic development that contributes to a lot of disposed of e-waste,” he added.

In addition to the e-waste management project, MUST has established a fully functional sanitation research institute that looks at circular research on organic waste.

It is currently taking food, and human waste and trying to see how it can create wealth from them.

“We plan to upscale the current technician courses to bachelors, masters, and probably PHDs where we plan to do research about the problematic e-waste fractions that are difficult to recycle and come up with noble ways of recycling to reduce the cost in order to achieve more impact by research and recycling more tonnes of e-waste at minimal cost,” said Odhiambo.

He appealed to partners to join hands with the institution adding that they have all that it takes as a University to upscale the project to urban mining which is the process of recovering rare materials in electronic waste.

Similarly, in 2022, Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Centre partnered with Taka Ni Mali to recycle e-waste in Kajiado county.

The two organizations, together with the county government of Kajiado launched a campaign for the sustainable management of electronic waste.

As part of the campaign, people would be sensitized on source separation and responsible disposal of e-waste. These include computers, kettles, chargers, refrigerators, batteries, and many more.

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