Thousands employed in e-waste management, better training needed in Abidjan

Oct 12, 2015: Last week WorldLoop’s Project Manager, Luc Severi found himself on the Akouedo Dumpsite in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

As part of WorldLoop’s work in the European Union’s Horizon2020 E-Waste Implementation Toolkit (EWIT) project, Severi visited stakeholders, together with the other EWIT consortium members, to assess the current e-waste management system in place today in Abidjan.

“Abidjan’s waste ends up at the Akouedo (approx. 3000-4000 tonnes/day), collected by 23 different privately owned companies that support different regions in and around Abidjan, gets weighed and is processed though an impressive system of weigh bridges and digital registry.” Severi reflected on what he observed. “More than 350 people make their living working at the dumpsite, primarily collecting plastic bags. Much like the Dandura Dump in Nairobi, Kenya, there is no e-waste to be found in the compound. It’s collected and processed through various channels, supporting a stronger relation to resource recovery.”

Several different markets exist around the city, all with their own specialty (e.g. aluminum reuse, end of life vehicles, electronics …). The electronics market brings employment to more than 800 people who get trained informally on-the-job through word-of-mouth knowledge transfer. Fractions are separated using manual dismantling techniques and find their way to the local markets. Because the cooperative isn’t legally registered today, international markets aren’t currently available today so those fractions that could benefit from a Best-of-2-Worlds solution are currently stored.

The visits to Akouedo and Afecamci was an excellent starting point for the 2-day EWIT workshop, where roundtable discussions took place related to e-waste legislation, Extended Producer Responsability (EPR) as a basic principle of the system.

EWIT started early this year and Abidjan was the fourth of the four “Twin Cities Workshops” (The EWIT Consortium has already successfully completed workshops in Choma, Zambia; Johannesburg, South Africa and Kisii, Kenya). The workshops intend to compare the two cities (in this case Abidjan and Antwerp, Belgium) and develop a master plan which can be implemented in the African municipalities. WorldLoop has provided its expertise, and shared its knowledge on e-waste.

Barbara Toorens, WorldLoop’s Director of External and Partner Relations will be heading to Rome later in November to participate in the next EWIT workshop on financing and legislation models.