Governing solar electronic waste recycling in Kenya

Info

Start date: 1 April, 2021 End date: 30 September, 2023 Project type: Research collaboration projects in growth and transition countries (Window 2) Project code: 20-M07DTU Countries: Kenya Thematic areas: Waste management, Lead institution: UNEP DTU Partnership (UNEPDTU), Denmark Partner institutions: University of Nairobi (UoN), Kenya Kenyatta University (KU), Kenya Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Denmark Project coordinator: Ulrich Elmer Hansen Total grant: 4,998,719 DKK

Project summary

The diffusion of small-scale, off-grid solar (OGS) devices, such as solar lanterns and solar home systems, have increased rapidly and significantly across countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The solar electronic waste (SEW) being generated and disposed of is increasing at a similar pace, which has raised concerns about the overall sustainability of the OGS sector. OGS devices contain various hazardous materials, such as lead and cadmium, the disposal of which may cause serious adverse effects to human health and the environment. At the same time, the processing of SEW in local recycling economies may involve substantial opportunities for employment and income generation. This project will conduct research in Kenya as a regional ’hot spot’ for SEW with the aim to identify appropriate private and public schemes for the collection and recycling of SEW in a manner that create economic value for local communities.

The project comprises of three interlinked work packages focusing on analysing:
(1) the role of leading OGS suppliers in governing SEW;
(2) the disposal practices of end-users and the processing of SEW in local recycling economies; and
(3) scenarios for future regulation and planning of SEW in Kenya. The findings from the project will feed into the political process in Kenya through close engagement with key government agencies and stakeholders.

The project will contribute to advance the literature on global value chains (GVC) specifically on waste and post-consumption processes. Specifically, the GVC framework will be further developed to allow for analyses of end-user product disposal practices, processing of waste in local recycling economies, and waste planning and regulation. The project is designed to advance relevant research capacity in Kenya especially from younger-level research involved in the project.

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