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e-Waste generation and management in Uganda

Titlee-Waste generation and management in Uganda
Publication TypeProceedings Article
Year of Conference2008
AuthorsSchluep M, Wasswa J, Kreissler B, Nicholson S
Conference NameWaste Management Conference (WasteCon2008)
Conference Start Date06.10.2008
Conference LocationDurban, South Africa
Keywordse-waste, massflows, Personal computers, recycling, refurbishment, Uganda

Difficulty of access to hardware and software to leverage the benefits of ICT is particularly acute for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in less developed countries. Within the framework of the partnership agreement that was signed in July 2006, UNIDO and Microsoft plan to make secondary PCs available to SMEs in developing economies in a safe and sustainable way. As part of this initiative it is intended to support the establishment of local sustainable e-waste material recovery facilities (MRF). Hence with support of the Swiss Institute of Materials Science and Technology (Empa) and the Uganda Cleaner Production Centre an e-waste assessment study with emphasise on personal computers was carried out in Uganda. The study aims to provide the necessary data to define a solution for handling e-waste associated with the UNIDO/Microsoft refurbishment project in Kampala and to provide general data about the e-waste situation in Uganda. There are no specific mechanisms in place to deal effectively with e-waste, although some recent development in Ugandan legislation can be read as having a bearing on e-waste. The assessment indicates that in 2007 around 300’000 PCs were installed in Uganda, of which 75% in governmental, educational and non-governmental organizations. It was estimated that around 15% of imports enter the country as second-hand computers. In 2007 up to 50,000 PC units might have reached their end-of-life. However, only a small portion seems to appear in the waste stream. A few tons of computer waste could be tracked back to informal waste pickers from landfill sites and formal and informal refurbishment businesses in Kampala. This finding suggests that most of the e-waste in Uganda is still in storage, yet this situation could change soon. Although unproblematic fractions from computer waste, such as plastic and metal could be recovered in existing recycling facilities in Uganda, especially hazardous fractions, such as leaded CRT glass and PCB containing capacitors need new solutions. Therefore infrastructure and mechanisms to handle this waste stream should be in place soon. An MRF as intended by the UNIDO / Microsoft initiative could be part of this solution and serve as a model for other refurbishment centres.

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