Industry and policy leaders shared information on the current state of African electronics recycling and refurbishment policy and practice. Those of us presenting from the U.S. and Europe talked about the voluntary industry standards likeResponsible Recycling (R2) in the U.S. and Weeelabex.
These are industry-led standards to ensure the responsible recycling of used electronics. The standards discussed included provisions that protect the environment, improve operations, ensure worker health and safety, improve data security, and help companies successfully compete in the world market.
For all to understand African challenges and how international electronics and refurbishment standards apply to African conditions.
To understand the current state of the African electronics recycling industry.
To identify effective stakeholder groups able to engage African governments, the largest generators of computer discards, and to encourage them to fully use the emerging electronics and refurbishment industry.
To explore ways to integrate the already large informal recycling sector in Africa in ways that provide income and also ensure personal health for these workers, and environmental health for Africa.
To ensure that attendees have the information necessary to make decisions on offering reuse and recycling services that align with international best practices, principles, and standards.
To identify industry leaders in Africa willing to be early adopters of international standards.
UNIDO’s Smail Alhilali summed up the event this way: "The event facilitated discussions between stakeholders throughout the whole chain of e-waste recycling. In the long term, standards will be key to stimulating the economic development of the recycling industry in Africa." Find UNIDO’s press release about the conference here.
This conference changed my view of Africa dramatically. There is a huge amount of good work going on in the field of electronics recycling that I had no idea about.
Images: Above right — TechSoup Africa director David Barnard, Jim Lynch, and World Links' director Eliada Gudza. Bottom picture — Microsoft worldwide manager of refurbisher programs Sean Nicholson in a roundtable discussion with key United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) leaders. UNIDO’s Smail Alhilali is in the foreground.