Your old computer could end up in Ghana

| April 6, 2011 | 0 Comments

Agbobloshie dump site in Accra, Ghana is known as a computer graveyard. In 2008, the BBC reported that illegal ‘e-waste’ – about 50 tons per year of it from well-known brands – was befouling African waste sites. Since then, the problem has escalated.

Ghanaian teenagers have been quick to seize on an opportunity; trawling the toxic dump sites to retrieve disc drives, lenses and circuit boards to trade in for a few paltry cents. With global scrap metal prices soaring, people use what they find to pay necessary costs like school fees. Environmental campaign group Greenpeace took soil and water samples from Agbobloshie and found high concentrations of leads, phthalates (plastic softeners) and dioxins that are known to promote cancer. Those searching for saleable parts burn bundles of computer cable to retrieve the valuable copper from the cables. Old car tyres are thrown onto the flames to keep the fires burning.

Agbobloshie and other dumps around the country also contaminate groundwater sites, affecting rivers and ultimately the sea, contributing to the death of countless marine species. There’s no need for such irresponsible dumping, says Greenpeace, pointing out that almost all developed nations have both the method and the means to eradicate or recycle computer equipment in environmentally friendly ways.

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Category: Autumn 2011

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