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Pact to tackle Zambia’s mounting e-waste problem

Airtel Networks Zambia has partnered with Ericsson on a ‘Product Take-Back’ program to minimise the potential environmental impact associated with the disposal of decommissioned electrical equipment.

The Product Take-Back program is part of Ericsson’s Sustainability efforts geared towards taking accountability for environmental impacts of all products and services during their lifecycle. The program ensures that end-of-life material is treated and recycled in an environmentally responsible manner.

Todd Ashton, Vice President and Head of Ericsson East and South Africa.
Todd Ashton, Vice President and Head of Ericsson East and South Africa.

Todd Ashton, Vice President and Head of Ericsson East and South Africa, said, “E-waste – discarded electrical or electronic equipment – is one of the fastest growing waste streams in the world in terms of volume. Africa is one of the more highly affected continents because large quantities of end of life materials from around the world end up at dumps in this region. A lot of it has to do with education – people cannot dispose of their e-waste responsibly if they do not differentiate it from other forms of waste. This project provides a sound platform for raising awareness and discussing these issues.”

He added: “The Global Product Take-Back Program enables us to support responsible waste management by taking a step further in our own recycling efforts, while simultaneously educating our consumers about e-waste, and the ways they can safely dispose of their unwanted devices. In fact, 21 tons of e-waste was collected from Zambia – contributing towards preserving the beauty of Zambia and making a positive environmental impact.”

Globally, Ericsson provides free product retrieval and safe disposal services for equipment that has reached its shelf life from the collection point, as part the company's extended producer responsibility. Ericsson offers the program to all customers, guaranteeing that this e-waste does not end up in trade-restricted areas, landfill, or in places where unethical business practices are taking place.

Ashton explained: “The significance and importance of proper electronic waste recycling cannot be overstated. Without it, the environmental impact can be devastating. Unlike typical garbage, much of the waste from electrical and electronic equipment is not biodegradable. When not treated correctly it poses a significant risk, and can cause environmental pollution and contamination, which has harmful consequences to people’s health, welfare and general living conditions.”

Ericsson Global Product Take-Back Program was launched in 2005 to create awareness and minimise the potential environmental impact associated with the disposal of decommissioned electrical and electronic equipment. The company has partnered with several service providers to warrant proper disposal of decommissioned electrical equipment (e-waste) and ensure that it is handled according to high environmental standards.

In Zambia, Ericsson has partnered with Airtel Zambia for this initiative.

MTN Benin partnered with Ericsson under its Ecology Management Program, to launch the first electrical and electronic equipment waste (e-waste) collection and awareness drive in Benin. In addition, Ericsson and Alfa in Lebanon partnered under Ericsson`s global Ecology Management Product Take-Back program to recycle old/obsolete electronic equipment, create market awareness about e-waste and confirm that material nearing the end of its useful life is treated in an environmentally responsible manner.

Airtel’s CEO and Managing Director, Apoorva Mehrotra.
Airtel’s CEO and Managing Director, Apoorva Mehrotra.

Airtel’s CEO and Managing Director, Apoorva Mehrotra said: “Airtel is committed to being socially responsible. We believe that the adoption of responsible e-waste disposal techniques will help to manage the impact on the environment. We are collaborating with Ericsson in e-waste management to not only evacuate the waste but also educate the general public and all key stakeholders about the importance of the proper disposal of e-waste in the country."

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