The Innovation Exchange challenge competition, delivered by KTN Global Alliance Africa, is supporting the WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Centre to identify innovations for the recycling and re-use of cathode ray tubes (CRTs) As new technologies become rapidly available, recycling and re-use of e-waste is crucial to reduce environmental impact. In Kenya, existing CRTs are being replaced by new technologies.

Those CRTs are bulky and contain hazardous elements which makes the disposal process complex. The WEEE Centre, which is currently processing the CRTs into different fractions, is looking for innovative solutions for the lead- embedded screens and steering coils and is interested in exploring alternative uses of the CRTs, either in their existing state or new state after they have been dismantled.

Challenge background

Electronic waste is one of the fastest growing waste streams in the world. New technologies are constantly replacing old electronic devices, creating challenges in how to dispose of the old ones.

The recycling of cathode ray tube (CRT) televisions and computer monitors is a major challenge in Kenya. Those CRTs are bulky and contain hazardous elements which makes their disposal process complex. The average CRT contains approximately 6lbs of lead and, depending on the age of the TV, cadmium, phosphorus, mercury, and beryllium. The improper disposal of CRTs can lead to a significant negative environmental impact.

Currently, CRTs are taken apart via a machine that separates them into different components (e.g. cases, glass, plastics), which are stored in 40ft containers. Some components are shipped for reuse while the remainder goes into landfill. If CRTs end up in landfill, they will ultimately deteriorate when exposed to the elements and the hazardous materials they contain could make it into the water system.

The WEEE Centre currently processes around 250 tonnes of CRTs per year, anticipating that CRT processing will increase to potentially 500 tonnes per year, mostly containing plastic and glass. Copper can be removed and recycled. There is a clear need to deal with this increased e-waste to prevent future environmental impacts associated with improper disposal.

The WEEE Centre is looking to find solutions for using the materials and components from the lead embedded CRT screens and steering coils. Research has shown it is possible to use CRT waste to create a raw material for building components (e.g. concrete, tiles…) among other uses. The WEEE centre is interested in exploring alternative uses of the CRTs either in their existing state or new state after processing.

Click here to download the challenge brochure.

Global Alliance Innovation Exchange

Global Alliance Innovation Exchange is an Innovate UK KTN programme specially designed to help UK and international organisations search for game-changing solutions to innovation challenges. Through the programme, we support innovation transfer by matching industry or societal challenges to innovative companies from across a diverse range of sectors. Our success is built on our deep sector expertise, trusted independence and global network.

Find more Global Alliance Innovation Exchange challenges here