ICT e-waste collection expands to Katanga

February 15th, 2016: Despite the positive role that ICT equipment play in socio-economic development of developing countries, they can also be source of serious danger towards the environment and health of the population. Concerning the DRC, some studies have shown that 26,100 tonnes of electrical and electronic equipment enter the country each year, which 16,050 tonnes will become waste (Step, 2012). Due to a lack of awareness and local knowledge, this recyclable e-waste is dumped without taking into account the national and / or international regulations, nor health and personal safety precautions, giving free rein to significant environmental and health risks in the region and the country.

For the moment, the DRC has no existing national legislation on the management of e-waste, or appropriate recycling processes for complex and harmful fractions, outside  informal recyclers who are exposed to potentially toxic components. It is in this context that WorldLoop, with the help of AirFrance Foundation and the Gilles Foundation, supported Benelux Afro Center (BAC) a.s.b.l. to launch the first legally operating, sustainable WEEE recycling facility in the DRC in 2014. Based in Kinshasa, this centre focuses on collection, sorting dismantling/refurbishment or recycling of obsolete computers and mobile phones.

In 2016, WorldLoop and BAC together with Groupe One and its local partner CDEG received a co-funding grant from Brussels International, to set up a similar centre in Lumbumbashi in the Haut Katanga province. This region is an industrialized area, and has experienced an increased penetration of ICT equipment as compared to other provinces in the DRC, resulting in higher volumes of electronic waste. The project will combine sustainable collection of obsolete ICT equipment with ICT equipment refurbishment for devices that are still functional and the dismantling and separation into fractions for the collected material that can not be upcycled.