An article in Earth Island Magazine for Spring 2021 titled “Scrappy Endeavor” speaks mainly about two things: first, the Global South is a dumping ground for the world’s electronics Waste taking an example in Kenya, and second, the power imbalance between advanced and developing countries in terms of e-waste.
The article shows two ends of the spectrum of e-waste management. On the one hand, the advanced countries have good e-waste management and standards that become very expensive and unaffordable. On the other hand, developing countries generally do not have standards nor regulations on e-waste. It makes e-waste management in developing countries, such as Kenya, not only cheap but free. Between both ends, there is an export of e-waste from advanced countries to developing countries.
The implication is dire. While in advanced countries, e-waste handling happens in well-equipped e-recycling facilities with uniform safety protocols. In developing countries like Kenya, e-waste is treated in “factories” that are often simply the backyard of any houses where recyclers break, burn, melt and dismantle the waste.
Kenya is one of the biggest destinations of e-waste export, either legal or underground. The lack of facilities for e-waste processing and uniform protocol in handling the waste have put workers and scrappers in more danger. These scrapers are often considered rubbish rooters instead of important stakeholders of the industry. The government regards those scraping e-waste informal sector that workers could not access insurance in times of casualties.