Awaste treatment firm wants producers and importers of electronics in the country compelled to contribute a recycling fee.
EnviroServe Rwanda, a subsidiary of the Dubai-based company managing the e-waste recycling facility in Bugesera under a 10-year contract said the fee will cushion it against losses.
The 10, 000 tonne-capacity e-waste recycling plant, which opened two years ago, still operates at below 35 per cent capacity as volumes held by individuals, homes, businesses and repairs shops across the country hardly get to the plant.
EnviroServe Rwanda general manager Olivier Mbera told Rwanda Today the partnerships with the operators involved in the waste collection and transportation business proved impractical.
For instance, while most would be willing to collect the materials for delivery to the plant if given incentives, they still found it cumbersome and lacked capacity to do the work.
“It is a problem even for the general waste collection system. This is because they sort the materials but when it comes to transporting they mix them as there are no trucks with separated bins,” he said, adding that the recycling facility can only hope to operate efficiently after setting up its own collection points in all districts estimated to cost Rwf300 million.
There is also additional cost of operationalizing the collection points like paying workers and transportation to the Eastern Bugesera district-based plant.
“It is costly of course, but we realized that that is the only way we can get volumes because this is the business of quantities. That’s the only way we can make profit,” he said.
The company, however, indicates that it had appealed to the government to introduce a waste managment law that can compel all players in the electronics production and distribution chain to contribute to the collection and treatment of the materials.
“It is something we are pushing for because when this is done, then as a recycling company we shall be able to provide incentives and that can encourage people to bring their old electronics,” said Mbera.
Much as environmentalists at Rwanda Environment management authority (REMA) admit a mechanism of collection for e-waste need to be worked on, its director general Coletha Ruhamya said that they had not had discussions with the plant with regard to the proposal on charging a recycling fee.
“It is something we are willing to discuss with them, there is a similar proposal about the plastics even electronics can be added,” she said.
An inventory carried out in 2015 indicated that Rwanda has an e-waste generation potential of more than 10,000 tonnes per year, of which over 82 per cent come from individuals while the rest came from private institutions and public institutions at 6 per cent and 12 per cent respectively.
The study had estimated the annual increase at 6 per cent, which players say might have gone up driven by entry of electronics makers like Positivo and Mara Phone into the market, increased phone ownerships and the general ICT sector expansion.