UNDP Around the world

Kazakhstan tackles its electronic waste problem

women showcasing advocacy materials
Through an unusual public-private partnership, Kazakhstan is making changes with its e-waste

Aigul Manataeva, a mother of two and a successful businesswoman in Astana, Kazakhstan, is meticulous about clearing out household junk.

When she read a newsletter about the negative impact of e-waste, she found herself hard-pressed to find an environmentally sound way to get rid of her five old mobile phones. Now, through advocacy campaigns and new e-waste disposal points in select shopping centres and city points, Aigul knows exactly where to turn in outdated phones.

Kazakhstan produces 343,000 tonnes of electronic waste each year, which traditionally make their way into dump sites, polluting soil and ground water. Out of the three million personal computers imported to Kazakhstan from 2000 through 2010, half of them have already become electronic waste.

Highlights

  • Kazakhstan produces 343,000 tonnes of electronic waste each year, which traditionally make their way into dump sites, polluting soil and ground water.
  • The programme is an example of successful public-private partnership between the Kazakh Ministry of Energy, Samsung Electronics and UNDP.
  • As part of the massive information campaigns more than six thousand information leaflets have been distributed and 19 eco-boxes installed in large stores in the cities of Karaganda and Astana and 24 eco-boxes in the municipal points of Astana.
  • The project in collaboration with the state and private sector has made proposals to improve the legislative foundation in e-waste management, and the potential of e-waste processing shown through public outreach programmes.

To tackle this problem, a joint project of the Kazakh Ministry of Energy and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), with financial support from Samsung Electronics in Kazakhstan and Central Asia, is helping to improve the efficiency of services for collection, transportation, use, and disposal of this type of waste. Advocacy campaigns through leaflets and media announcements are helping to educate young and old about the need to recycle personal e-waste and how they can do it.

The short-term 2014 programme achieved impressive institutional and legislative results and has now taken off in a range of directions. Advocacy for the issue has encouraged businesses to get on board. Approaches for collecting old electronic technology have been developed. Dozens of eco-boxes have been installed in large stores in the cities of Astana and Karaganda and at targeted municipal points. An incentive programme urges people to turn in their old phones and electronic devices in return for discounts on future purchases.

Because youth are the most active users of electronic equipment, the Kazakh National University took over the green initiatives in the final stages of the project by installing an eco-box at the Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology. The electronic waste recycling company Promtechnoresurs will take the contents of the eco-boxes and disassemble their components.

UNDP organized a series of training sessions on processing electronic waste, which brought experts from Switzerland and Austria. “We talked about economic benefits of Extended Producer Responsibility, methods of management of chemicals in electronics, effective strategies to collect electronic waste and its healthy disintegration,” said Vyacheslav Tyukhtin, a specialist in e-waste recycling. “This training was virtually the first time that public attention was drawn to these issues,” he said.

Through collaboration with the Ministry of Energy of the Republic of Kazakhstan and with the private sector, the project has made proposals to improve the legislative foundation in e-waste management, and public outreach programmes have shown the potential of e-waste processing. Large retail chains and smaller private companies are starting to take part and create their own initiatives.

As part of the information campaigns, large stores in Astana and Karaganda large have collected more than a hundred phones and tablets within a month of launching their discount-based programmes.