E-waste challenges in Malawi

May 18, 2018 by Benjamin Balder Bach

Sub-Saharan countries, for instance Rwanda or Kenya, have responsible e-waste recycling. This is both evidence that it can work, and an indirect call: It is time to have such capacity in Malawi!

However, it is not yet a reality. But we are very encouraged after a April/May 2018 tour, having discussed this at several levels. Both local entrepreneurs can play a role, and so can established businesses. We are slowly filling a 40' container with e-waste, and as such, we have a small challenge and fraction of possibility for someone who wishes to work with this challenge.

As we know from Europe, e-waste is actually profitable. But it is also an environmental and a human hazard. We will have to see it out of Malawi at a great cost, if no possibility arises in 2018.

Take-back: It's a pledge

Our pledge is to ensure that human and environmentally safe handling of the same amount of e-waste as we are responsible for sending. And we will keep up with this pledge.

Challenges for Malawian e-waste handling are the following:

  1. Someone needs to invest in the business.
  2. At many organizations, rules are very rigid about inventory. Something that looks like waste (broken and obsolete) may still be in the inventory. Organizations are afraid of opening up ways to steal!
  3. Critical mass: To make it commercial, you need to have a certain flow of e-waste, meaning collection points throughout the country.

But it is all very prosperous!

  1. Organizations throughout Malawi are hauling discarded equipment in their cabins, back rooms, parking lots etc. They cannot wait much longer.
  2. Metals are valuable.
  3. Other waste management businesses and regulations are popping up in Malawi, and the push for handling e-waste is in the near future.

If you are interested in solving this challenge, please get in touch!

Images: Indsamling af e-waste

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