Posted by: Home Strange Home | December 8, 2009

e-Waste in Ghana

Despite international laws banning the export of unusable electronic products, an increasing amount of electronic waste, which cannot be easily,  cheaply, and legally disposed of in western countries, is ending up in the rubbish dumps of Ghana (and Nigeria, China, and India, for that matter). 

Labelled as “second-hand goods,” computers and televisions arrive by container ship into Tema Harbour and are dumped in the Agbogblashie scrap yard in Accra.  The electronic waste is then “processed” in the most rudimentary and dangerous ways – poor people from the nearby slums (often young boys) disassemble the computers by hand and burn wires to extract the copper, which can be resold as scrap.  Toxic fumes are released, and no protective equipment is worn.

While it is illegal to export e-waste from Europe, unscrupulous traders get around this by labelling old electronics for “reuse.”  It is suspected that some British recycling companies collect old computers, but instead of recycling them, they cut deals with Ghanaian business people to export them.

When Greenpeace published a report in August of last year about this practice, there was public outcry in the UK (not helped by the fact that some of the computers found in Agbogbloshie were labelled as belonging to the NHS and UK councils).  British citizens complained to the UK Environment Agency, which says it is investigating the issue.

Greenpeace believes that the solution to the problem lies in pressuring large electronic companies to take responsiblity for recycling their old products and institute global recycling schemes. 

Sources: Greenpeace and Ghana Business News.



  1. […] as Europe’s Bin Previously in this blog I wrote about the illegal dumping of hazardous electronic and electrical appliance […]

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