Business opportunities in Electronic waste

Written by
Dr Ayub Macharia

All of us use different electronic devises which after some time reach their end of life. This implies that everyone is an e-waste generator. Where do you take your electronic devise when it reaches its end of life? In my earlier article I explained that failure to dispose e-waste properly could lead to environmental pollution and consequently many health hazards.
If you are keen, you will discover that there is a lot of e-waste thrown carelessly in our environment. E-waste recycling provides many business and entrepreneurial opportunities. E-waste recycling results in recovery of many precious elements that could have otherwise been harmful to the environment. E-waste recycling is like engaging in mining of precious metals. The interesting aspect of this mining process is that it only involves a physical intervention and hence is cheap. The precious metals were refined and used to make the electronic devise and do not require further chemical processing during recycling. The precious elements just need physical separation from each other, and accumulating adequate quantities for sale to the industrialists. This could be very useful in creating jobs for our thousands of youth.
According to NEMA (2014, pg 12), some of the precious elements that could be extracted from e-waste includes the following:-
Tin – from solder, coatings on component leads.
Copper – from Copper wire, printed circuit board tracks, component leads.
Aluminium – from electronic goods including electrolytic capacitors.
Iron – from Steel chassis, cases, and fixings.
Germanium: from transistorized electronics (bipolar junction transistors).
Silicon – from glass, transistors, ICs, printed circuit boards.
Nickel – from Nickel-cadmium batteries.
Lithium – from Lithium-ion batteries.
Zinc – from Plated steel parts.
Gold – from connector plating in computer equipment
How much money is a kilogramme of each of these recovered elements? It is substantial and its recovery is crucial in fostering employment and livelihoods for Kenyans as well as ensuring a clean and healthy environment. Spend a day scanning your locality and establish how much e-waste is available.
If you are excited about the amounts of e-waste available, you may wish to establish a recycling facility to rake in these millions which are currently being wasted. I encourage you to exploit this opportunity. All what you need to do is:-
1. Visit NEMA for technical advice
2. Request NEMA for benchmarking attachments with other industry players
3. Establish a recycling facility.
4. Get a recycling license from NEMA.
Now you see, its easy to become an “urban mining tycoon”. Take that bold step.
National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) (2010) Guidelines for E-waste management in Kenya. NEMA, Nairobi

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