E-waste in Agbogbloshie, Ghana


In Agbogbloshie market, e-waste recyclers, including children, salvage copper, aluminium and other metals from electronic equipment like computers and televisions, either illegally dumped or legally exported in the form of second hand electronic and electrical equipment (EEE) from the UK, US and EU.

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Basic Data
NameE-waste in Agbogbloshie, Ghana
ProvinceGran Accra
SiteOn the outskirts of Accra
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Waste Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
E-waste and other waste import zones
Chemical industries
Specific Commodities
Manufactured Products
Chemical products
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsWhile Ghana does have a demand for second hand electronic equipment, 75% of electronics that arrive in Ghana are broken. Dealers in Accra buy the metals from between 20 and 90 cents a pound. E-recyclers earn between $6 and 10/day. A 2011 BBC panorama investigation found that 100 000 tonnes of e-waste is leaked out of the UK every year and 77% of e-waste from England and Wales ends in primarily in Ghana and Nigeria.

Type of PopulationUrban
Company Names or State EnterprisesEnvironment Waste Controls - other companies are involved and come from the United States of America and European Union clients include ASDA, Tesco, Barclays, the NHS and Network Rail
PC Disposals
Micro Traders and Disposals
Sanak Ventures
Relevant government actorsGhanas Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology, Ministry of Communications -Ministry of Justice
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersLeague of Environmental Journalists, Ghana, http://lejghana.org/contact, Greater Accra Recyclers Association, Green Advocacy Ghana, Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), http://www.eia-international.org/, Greenpeace International, www.greenpeaceinternational.org.uk, http://greenadgh.com/
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
When did the mobilization beginLATENT (no visible resistance)
Groups MobilizingInformal workers
International ejos
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Wastepickers, recyclers
Local scientists/professionals
Local journalists
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Malnutrition, Occupational disease and accidents, Other environmental related diseases
Potential: Deaths
OtherE-waste recyclers can develop respiratory illness, developmental and behavioral disorders, damaged immune, nervous and blood systems, kidney damage, impaired brain development, mental disability from lead poisoning, and eventually cancer. Acute or chronic exposure to toxic e-waste can be fatal.
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseEnvironmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
New legislation
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Development of Alternatives-Environmental Investigation Agency calls for better enforcement of existing legislation against e-waste in Ghana and Africa generally

-EIA calls for the UK government to continue funding the Environment Agency in order to continue intelligence-led enforcement of companies, conduct a full review of the Producer Compliance Scheme and ensure that recycling facilities have the infrastructure to recycle, tighten procedures for authorizing treatment facilities and contractors. It also suggests the construction of recycling facilities in the developing world (for more, see the EIA comprehensive report)

-Author Kwei Quartey suggests that NGOs can offer carpentry training courses to provide alternative sources of income for children, but finding employment afterward remains a challenge.

-Greenpeace calls on electronics companies to ban toxic chemicals from their products

-Green Advocacy Ghana provided 8 environmentally friendly machines to e-recyclers in Ghana to extract copper without burning. Scrap dealers want the government to support these efforts.

Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The EU has created new legislation to collect and recycle 45 tonnes of e-waste starting in 2016 and the Ghanaian government said it would create a bill to ban the import of e-waste. But thousands of people in the market have no other alternative income and depend on the scrapyard for a living. The e-waste business is also lucrative for large organized scrap dealers, many of whom are Nigerian, Togolese, Chinese, Indian and Lebanese.
Sources and Materials

Basel convention (1989) prohibits the dumping of hazardous waste from developed to developing countries, but the US is not party to the convention.
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No laws to regulate e-waste dumping in Ghana

Responsible Electronics Recycling Act, 2011 (USA)

EU law also prohibits e-waste exports to non-OECD countries

EU new legislation is an extension of the 2003 Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive.

Legal loophole: EU waste declared as second hand goods

The EU has brought in new legislation to take effect from 2016; for every hundred tonnes of electrical items put on the market during the previous three years, member countries will have to collect and recycle 45 tonnes of e-waste.





Tech Graffiti: The Terrible Cost of Ghanas Electronic Waste Dump.
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New York Times. A Global Graveyard for Dead Computers in Ghana.
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PBS. Interactive Map. The Global Trade in Electronic Waste.
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Otend-Ababio, Martin. E-Waste. An Emerging Challenge to Solid Waste Management in Ghana. International Development Planning Review. Vol 32, No, 2. Liverpool University Press (2010).
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ETV Ghana. E-Waste: A Growing Environmental and Health Disaster in Ghana. Uploaded January 14, 2012.
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The Guardian. UK E-Waste Illegally Dumped in Ghana. (May 16, 2011).
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BBC. Britains E-Waste Illegally Leaked into West Africa. (May 16, 2011).
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Greenpeace. Poisoning the Poor. Electronic Waste in Ghana. (August 5, 2008)
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Crikey. Agbogbloshie, West Africas Biggest E-Waste Dump. (January 31, 2012).
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Ghana Business News. By-Laws to Control E-Waste in Ghana at Final Stage. (July 11, 2011).
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Reuters. UK Firms Dump Electronic Waste in W Africa: Group. (May 24, 2011).
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Mongabay. Children on the Frontlines. The E-Waste Epidemic in Africa. (September 09, 2011).
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PBS. Drowning in Electronics. Where the Law Stands on E-Waste.
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Basel Convention. Overview.
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Media Links

Al Jazeera. EU Moves to Clean Up E-Waste. (July 14, 2012).
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BBC One. Panorama. Track My Trash. (May 16, 2011).
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Stopping the Burning at Agbogbloshie E-Waste site in Accra, Ghana. (August 9, 2012).
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Meta Information
ContributorZahra Moloo
Last update08/04/2014