GOGLA E-waste Festival sets the agenda: 5 key takeaways
Aug 02, 2019
Drew Corbyn and Juliana Martinez
The GOGLA E-waste Festival, held from 16 – 18 July in Nairobi, attracted over 50 people from around the world to share, create and have fun. Members of the GOGLA E-waste Working Group came together with recyclers, researchers and development partners to generate new ideas, projects and partnerships. There was a real buzz as participants shared experiences and challenges in the sessions and socials.
Over three days of expert presentations and participatory exercises, the festival focused on take-back channels, upcoming regulation and ways to address some of the main barriers to improved waste management. Here are 5 key takeaways from the e-waste festival:
There is a growing community gathering around e-waste: From manufacturers and recyclers to researchers and donor partners, the event attracted a diverse group coming together from countries in East and West Africa, South Asia, Europe and the US. Nearly ten different recycling or e-waste management companies/initiatives attended – they clearly see an opportunity in the sector and are looking to actively engage in the conversation. Participants welcomed the chance to come together to meet, share, learn and have festival fun.
A wave of e-waste projects signifies a step change in the industry’s efforts: The Global LEAP Solar E-waste Challenge will fund eight projects from companies and recyclers that will help tackle some of the practical barriers to improved end of life management and generate learning for the sector. The Festival participants also generated a list of potential project ideas to take forward together.
Greater emphasis is now being placed on take-back and collection: Many companies have reverse logistics operations and recycling partnerships in place and are now seeking to increase collection rates. This came out both in the workshop held during the first day and the Global LEAP winners’ presentations, where increasing take-back from customers and improving collection was a common thread for winner manufacturers and recyclers alike.
There is a push to refurbish and recycle lithium batteries in Africa: Aceleron, a lithium battery developer based in the UK, with operations in East Africa,have a pilot that is exploring refurbishing lithium batteries for second life. Hinckley, part of Hinckley Associates was the first registered electronic waste recycler in Nigeria, is also developing plans for refurbishment and recycling of lithium batteries in Nigeria. Extending the life of batteries would have a big impact on reducing waste from off-grid solar.
Industry in Kenya is readying itself for the e-waste regulation: The draft e-waste bill, which has been in discussion for some years now, is making progress and seems imminent, though we still lack clarity on when it will come into force. The bill aims to map and define actors and responsibilities in the e-waste management landscape in Kenya, as well as providing framework for collection and proper treatment. Members of GOGLA and KEREA welcome regulation that is appropriate and fair, though are concerned about the potential for undue costs that would hurt low-income consumers and subsidising free-riders with non-quality-verified goods. An industry response to the bill was discussed and will form the basis for engagement with policy makers.