Many of our electronic goods end up in a vast dumpsite in the west of Ghana’s capital Accra. There are piles are old computers, television screens and laptops with small fires creating plumes of smoke into the air. These fires fill the air with toxic fumes as plastic cases are burnt while workers collect motherboards, valuable metals and copper wires.
This is one of the biggest dumps for electronic goods in the world and also one of the most polluted places. Every year thousands of tonnes of e-waste find their way here from Europe and North America. For many it’s a lucrative business of stripping valuable metal in a place where nearly a quarter of people live below the poverty line.
Experts warn the toxins present in the waste are slowly poisoning the workers as well as spreading pollution through the soil and the air. An environmental researcher at the Ghana Atomic Energy commission says ‘mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic – these are the four most toxic substances and these are found in e-waste residues in very large quantities.’
There is little data on the numbers of people who have fallen ill or died as a result of working with e-waste but exposure to these toxins are known to cause a whole range of illnesses from cancer to heart and respiratory diseases.
Campaigners in Ghana say some of these exports are illegal, however the majority are believed to be legal imports of working second-hand goods, sent over due to the growing demand for cheap electronics in developing economies.
It’s believed that electronic producers have a responsibility to help clean up the mess their products have created. Walter Alcorn is the vice president of environmental affairs at the Consumer Technology Association, says ‘take back’ programmes are in place to encourage consumers to return their old gadgets for recycling and prevent them from becoming waste. But the real difference will be made as producers phase out the use of dangerous chemicals and heavy metals within their products.
RecycleIT4U offer a fast, efficient and friendly service to help recycle your unwanted electrical goods with a simple automated collection system. To book a collection you can either use our online form or you can speak to us direct during our normal office hours. Our collection booking telephone number is 01952 580814.
We will collect redundant PCs, laptops, monitors, servers, network products, printers, EPOS, Scanners, UPS, cabling, AV equipment, projectors, telephones, mobiles and fax machines using our own vehicles at an agreed date and time.
An official WEEE disposal certificate will be issued, quoting serial number, asset tag and description of all the items collected.
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