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Enviroserve is looking to upscale proven e-waste solutions
In 2012 UNEP estimated that Kenya was producing 44,000 tons of electronic waste annually, given the growth in the economy since then it is safe to assume the number is currently larger than this. E-waste has a damaging effect on the environment, particularly water sources. Enviroserve offers concrete solutions and we're inviting new business opportunities.
Enviroserve Kenya was formed in July 2017 by the senior team that founded the Paynet and PesaPoint businesses in Kenya in 2003 and sold them to Interswitch in 2015. Having been significantly involved in the deployment of technology in Africa, some of the for over 30 years, they felt they wanted to build a sustainable commercial entity that ethically collected and processed e-waste with the target of zero to landfill.
Whilst this team had excellent commercial experience and relationships in East Africa, they did not have expertise in e-waste processing and this led to a partnership with Enviroserve in UAE, which had already started to grow a partner network in Africa. Enviroserve UAE is now a 30% shareholder in Enviroserve Kenya.
From the outset Enviroserve Kenya has been clear that it wants to operate an ethical business with tracking and recycling of e-waste at the core. Each customer delivery is independently tracked through the process and certificates of recycling are provided. The business has broken its market focus into three sectors:
- Corporates – this is the first target as for the following reasons
a. Reception of the message at the top level is generally positive
b. B2B means large volumes from fewer collections
c. Enviroserve Kenya Directors have strong corporate relationships to leverage
- Public Sector – this has already started but typically takes a little longer to respond
- Consumers – whilst there are pilots underway this is the most expensive sector to ‘educate’. The business wants to ensure robust processes are in place, it is profitable and it can co-ordinate corporate campaigns alongside its own before embarking on a consumer program on a large scale.
At present the business collects from companies and breaks down waste at its warehouse in Nairobi. Metal (including lead batteries) is typically recycled locally by specialist companies as is PET and PE plastics. Circuit boards, CRT monitors, lithium batteries and flame retardant plastic are sent to UAE via sea for further processing.
Enviroserve Kenya intends to increase its processing capabilities over time, initially by adding shredders to make shipment more efficient and finally by building the capability to process circuit boards in Kenya. Currently Enviroserve is collecting 30 tons per month of e- waste, but this is growing quickly.
Enviroserve is in the last stage of NEMA certification in that all reports have been submitted and within 20 days we should receive certification as a processor. Kenya has developed draft e-waste regulations which it intends to pass into law in the near future. These are substantial and place considerable onus on importers and users of electronic goods to recycle.
Areas of Need / Potential Input
Knowledge transfer - technical / business input – although Enviroserve Kenya enjoys a very good relationship with Enviroserve UAE it could benefit from learning from other global players in terms of building and running this type of business.
- Shredders – this would provide significant efficiency gains and would also be used to destroy hard disks (information destruction)
- Processing capability – ultimately Kenya could process e-waste at the circuit board level for the region
- Transportation – currently this is outsourced, but as the CEO has a strong
logistics background it would be more efficient to run our own collection fleet
- IT systems – there are integrated systems for e-waste management. These are typically expensive as they clearly cater for established businesses. Enviroserve Kenya would like to start with good systems to provide the tracking and management information to run a sound business. At present the plan is build some of the elements ourselves to keep costs at a level that make sense for the business, however if assistance to procure a proven system was provided it would be our first choice.
- Relationships – Currently the processing of items like CRT’s, printer cartridges, lithium batteries and flame retardant plastic present challenges to the whole Enviroserve group. The business would like to develop wider relationships with processors capable of ethically and viably disposing of these.
- Market awareness / education campaigns – as the business moves to profitability it has to be conservative in terms of marketing and promotional spend. Any assistance in this area would help accelerate awareness in Kenya regarding the need to recycle e-waste and the options available