Meru University pioneers e-waste management training

Meru University e-waste

Meru University of Science and Technology VC Prof Romanus Odhiambo speaks to students during the opening of an e-waste collection and management centre on February 16, 2023.

Photo credit: David Muchui I Nation Media Group

Meru University of Science and Technology (MUST) has started an e-waste process management training, becoming the first institution of higher learning in Kenya to roll out the programme.

MUST has also established an e-waste collection centre that will be upgraded to a mini recycling centre for training in an initiative backed by GIZ, Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) Centre, Pan African E-waste Solutions among other partners.

Meru University Vice Chancellor Prof Romanus Odhiambo said the institution was striving to become a hub for research and training on circular economy.

He said e-waste is an emerging threat to efforts to reverse the effects of climate change with only 17 percent of all waste produced globally being managed.

“Reports indicate that over 53 million tonnes of e-waste was produced globally in 2020 and could increase to 120 million tonnes by 2050 if not handled. In Africa, the growth of ICT and economy calls for readiness to manage e-waste,” Prof Odhiambo said.

He added that the management of e-waste will open up the urban mining sector which is more cost effective than field mining.

Urban mining is recovering rare metals from discarded electrical and electronic equipment through mechanical and chemical treatments.

E-waste process

“Our first group of 175 students will graduate in e-waste process management in June this year. The students will double up as agents for the collection centre. We are also working towards establishing a mini recycling centre for training and income generation. The university will help raise awareness, train, build capacity and create jobs around e-waste management,” the VC said.

Besides e-waste, Prof Odhiambo said the university has established itself as a centre for organic waste management research.

According to WEEE Centre Project manager Joseph Oliech, Kenya produces more than 51,000 tonnes of e-waste annually but little of it is recovered for recycling.

“Kenya is in the process of enacting the Sustainable Waste Management Act which provides for management of e-waste. This will ensure manufacturers take responsibility for e-waste management. The procurement and disposal Act also eases collection of electronics and electrical equipment from government offices since it does not place a cost on e-waste,” Mr Oliech said.

Mr Oliech said there was a need to train more youth in e-waste process management due to increased use of mobile phones and other ICT equipment in Africa.

“Our centre has the capacity to process 1,000 tonnes but we do not receive enough material. The training on e-waste management by Meru University will build capacity for this country,” he said.

He said there was an urgent need to enforce e-waste management since it is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions as well as releasing toxins into the environment.

“We are also working with five other vocation training institutions to provide e-waste management courses,” he said.