Over the last two decades, society has reaped tremendous benefits from the surge in electronics development. This explosive growth in the electronics industry, however, has led to a rapidly escalating issue of e-Waste, which has been growing rapidly. This has presented the need for e-Waste recycling plants in many societies. Like many developing nations, Rwanda has not had one.
This ends soon though as the increased attention by policy makers, industry, and consumers alike is about to pay off with the opening the country’s first e-Waste recycling plant in Bugesera District later this month.
This is good news because many consumers are still not sure how to safely recycle old electronics. Many households still keep junk electronics in their homes, while those eventually dumped are disposed of with little or no concern for safety.
But now with the Rwf1.2 billion facility comes not only opportunities but also solutions to many challenges that e-Waste disposal posed to environment and human livelihood.
Of course, top on the opportunities the recycling plant brings is green jobs. And besides incidents of theft of electronics that are bound to rise as unscrupulous persons seek to sell stolen gadgets on the cheap to e-Waste collection centres, many youth will sketch livelihood around e-Waste collection.
E-Waste contains many valuable, recoverable materials such as aluminum, copper, gold, silver, plastics, and ferrous metals. In order to conserve natural resources and the energy needed to produce new electronic equipment from virgin resources, electronic equipment can be refurbished, reused, and recycled instead of being landfilled.
Electronic waste also contains deposits of precious metal estimated to be between 40 and 50 times richer than ores mined from the earth, according to the United Nations.
However, e-Waste contain toxic and hazardous materials such as mercury, lead, cadmium, beryllium, chromium, and chemical flame retardants, which have the potential to leach into soil and water. This calls for proper processing to ensure that these materials are not released into the environment.
For Rwandans, the new plant opens the era of professional recyclers and refurbishers and creates new markets for the valuable components that are dismantled.
The new plant is breathing fresh air and opportunities that those with potentials in various forms cannot afford to let pass by. Rwandans should reap the benefits.