A ban on the dumping of electronic waste in the region received a boost after the East African Community (EAC) prohibited the importation of cathode rays tubes (CRTs) and standalone used computer monitors with effect from July 1, 2022.
The East African Community Sectoral Council on Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment (SCTIFI) held a meeting in Arusha on November 12, chaired by Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary in charge of Trade and Industrialisation Betty Maina, in which the partner states — Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan — agreed unanimously to ban dumping of e-waste in the region.
The decision follows concerns that firms in developed countries were exporting these items to developing countries, purportedly as refurbished and good for use, while instead were dumping them so that they don’t have to deal with the e-waste when they become obsolete. Many African countries have non-existent or unsafe recycling practices, which endanger both people’s health and the environment.
Items with CRTs are particularly harmful because they contain lead, a known toxin. The lead content could be as much as to 1.5kg to 2kg in one piece of CRT, which can cause severe environmental and health impacts.
Once dumped in landfills, the lead-filled CRT glass leachate seeps into the soil and groundwater, and, when broken down, the lead dust particles pollute the air.