•Kenya is a signatory to international treaties regulating and banning the dumping of damaged and end-of-life electronics.
•Long flooded by e-waste from Europe and Asia, Kenya is now also faced with huge volumes generated locally.
Appliance manufacturers operating in the country are now taking charge of the end of life for their products as sustainability of business operations takes centre stage.
Long flooded by e-waste from Europe and Asia, Kenya is now also faced with huge volumes generated locally by the smartphone, computer, and appliance frenzy that have hit the market.
With only four licensed recycling companies in Kenya, most waste often ends up in landfills where it releases lead, mercury and other toxic substances.
On average Kenya generates 3,000 tons of e-waste each year from devices such as computers, monitors, printers, mobile phones, fridges, and batteries.
However, the tide is slowly changing as manufacturers move to take charge of the end of life for their products.
A spot-check across the major players shows that increasing warranty for products has become a key trend as they look to ensure that they don’t become obsolete quickly
Samsung Head of Consumer Electronics in East Africa, Samuel Odhiambo says the trend will see investment in high quality appliances as manufacturers seek to cushion themselves from the high maintenance costs in the short term.
He adds that the move has seen the company increase investments during products testing to ensure they will function properly for many years.
“When a customer walks into any of our dealer stores we can assure them that they are buying durable and high quality products. They are also buying products that are sustainable and eco-conscious," says Odhiambo.
Ranging from refrigerators, washing Machines, microwaves and air conditioners, the appliance makers are not only offering the full warranties but are increasing the same to specific components of the products.
“LG electronics service department working in conjunction with government agencies and the anti-counterfeit agency have set up measures on the importation of genuine products in the country as well as the safe disposal of electronics products safely at our authorised service centre,” the manufacturer said in a statement.
Despite Kenya being a signatory to international treaties regulating and banning the dumping of damaged and end-of-life electronics, it still imports large quantities of these goods that are considered too inefficient to be sold in the country of origin.
After a few months of use, the devices become obsolete, and most users dispose them at dumpsites without considering the dangers of the e-waste and the risks they are exposed to if information stored in the devices lands in the wrong hands.
In its efforts to incorporate a circular economy Samsung says its 24-month warranty for select appliances will go hand in hand with the already existing 20-year warranty on the Digital Inverter Technology (DIT) and compressors.
LG on the hand is running a 10-year warranty on the major parts of the appliances.
Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Centre General Manager Boniface Mbithi says without a proper legal framework to handle e-waste in Kenya and in the face of climate change, only a few companies have sustainable ways to handle e-waste.
“Making repairs, finding a reputable recycling company, donating older products and cutting down on purchases are just a few ways businesses can manage their e-waste problem,” said Mbithi.