Don’t e-waste the opportunity to get together! Kosovo youths join forces to save the environment and create jobs

8 Mar 2023

Don’t e-waste the opportunity to get together! Kosovo youths join forces to save the environment and create jobs

Where does plastic disappear to when we throw a bottle away? What about old phones and computers? For the answers to these questions, you might want to check in with a group of 15 youngsters from different communities in Peja/Pec, who are learning to turn waste into work.

Speaking on the third day of the project “E-Cycle” last month, Dea Manaj, 15 years old from Istog/Istok, urged everyone to learn how to manage waste.

“This is so important! Every living human being should be aware that the time has come that waste must go where it belongs and be recycled because this directly affects our health.”

The six-month project, led by NGO Lens and supported by UNMIK, were engaging and open to everyone.

“Even in the breaks now we only talk about garbage. It’s so funny! They keep us constantly engaged and that is very nice. I really didn’t know I would have so much fun and learn so many new things…I have already made so many new friends while learning how to protect our health [and environment].”

23-year-old university student Gazmend Zekolli, who is from the minority Egyptian community, said while the group were learning how to separate and classify waste, no such separation had happened with the multiethnic group.

“We are all equal. And in this training, we are learning how to re-use waste and benefit from it...Keeping in mind technology skyrockets on a daily basis, we can re-use old equipment to build new ones and sell those,” he said.

NGO Lens executive director Driton Zhubi said it was amazing to see that when youngsters come together for a common cause they forget any differences and work together closely. 

“We have so many different communities participating in this project, and while we actively work on social cohesion, the kids are learning all about the importance of how to treat waste, especially what they are interested in mostly: about electronic waste.”

He said by day three of the project most of the group had already learned how to separate waste in order to recycle, about the damage that has been caused to the environment by poor waste management – and about how this can lead to new opportunities.

“They actually understand the business concept of e-waste. They already have ideas of creating businesses or social enterprises within their community – based on how to treat waste.”

The project’s ultimate goal is to see waste collection points to be set up across the whole Peja/Pec region.