Article written

  • on 23.06.2010
  • at 08:00 AM
  • by Staff

Ghana boom in dangerous e-waste imports 2

Despite international conventions prohibiting the export of dangerous waste to developing countries, enormous quantities of outdated and destroyed electronic equipment from Europe end up in Ghana’s Agbogbloshie dump each week.

Only in the major port of Ghana, Tema, each month some 600 40-foot containers of outdated electronic equipment arrive from all over the world, mostly comprising of old computers, TVs and refrigerators. The traffic in waste or almost-waste products to Ghana is on the increase.

According to the activist groups DanWatch and Greenpeace, only about one quarter of the electronic goods are capable of being reused and end up in the stores of second-hand shops around the region. The rest, amounting to at least 450 containers each month, is pure waste and ends up in Ghana‘s largest waste dump Agbogbloshie.

Here, the electronic articles sum up to a large environmental problem due to their often dangerous components. In Europe or North America, their disposal would be expensive because of the need to treat these dangerous components in a responsible way. It is cheaper shipping the waste to Africa, disguised as second-hand articles.

The UN’s Basle Convention is regulating the trade in waste products. According to this international agreement, dangerous waste articles, including electronic equipment, cannot be exported to developing countries. The reason is that developing countries mostly do not have an infrastructure to treat such waste in an environmentally just manner – and if they have it, it would be as expensive as in the country of the waste’s origin. The export thus only serves the purpose of avoiding an environmentally justifiable treatment.

The cynical export of waste products recently was demonstrated by the Dutch company Trafigura’s export of toxic oil waste products to Côte d’Ivoire, neighbouring Ghana, costing many lives.

In Ghana, where regulations are somewhat stricter than in Côte d’Ivoire, the current “import hit” is electronic waste articles. At very low cost, the waste products are received in Tema, where second-hand traders pick out the best pieces. The rest is sent to Agbogbloshie for a small fee.

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  1. i am a student of odorgonno sec school form2. my opinion is that the waste product imported in ghana should be stopped because it causes global warming when they are burnt,and global warming also risk the lives of the individual in the nation. i want to ask whether we pay for the imported waste product or they rather pay us? i wish u people will come to our school and teach us more about it. bye.

  2. Aiah Wusa says:

    Why are our African brothers and sister living in europe are putting africa on the map as a grave yard for e waste. it is better we ask the country of habitat to deport them

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