Ghana, famous for it’s coast, chocolate and national parks is also where the used gadgets of millions of Europeans go to die. Over 200,000 tonnes of gadgets, mostly from Europe, find their way to the west-coast of Africa. Unsurprisingly, one of the largest dumps for these gadgets finds itself on the Blacksmith Institute’s 10 most polluted areas in the world.
Ever since gadgets became commonplace in households across the world, the question with how to properly get rid of them has never been properly answered. Unlike other household items, gadget don’t break down in landfills, break easily and are replaced often making them a huge waste item.
The institute which compiles the most polluted areas in the world also suspects 200 million people are threatened by the toxic pollution given off by these gadgets. Some businesses such as OnRecycle.co.uk, allow customers to sell their gadgets at a competetive price. However, even with the industry’s best efforts, some people still find the hassle of recycling too much hassle and choose to just bin their gadgets instead.
A Dangerous Waste
According to the United Nations, up to 60 elements of the periodic table can be found in e-waste as well as a range of dangerous chemicals including arsenic, lead and mercury. Whilst this waste can be handled safely in the Western World, workers in waste skips in third world countries are likely to be at risk handling it.
Even in countries such as the United States, it’s estimate less than 20% of e-gadgets are properly recycled. Most items processed in the US are expected to end up in land-fills up and down the country but shockingly 80% of the waste is shipped abroad.
It’s Not Just Ghana
Whilst Ghana is one of the largest importers of e-gadgets waste it’s not the only country. The US regularly exports to China, India and other countries in Africa, an export process which is banned in Europe. One city in China is estimated to have 150,000 people employed by the e-waste industry, collecting parts of scrap metal from the items which can be reused.
What’s Being Done About It?
With the amounts of global e-waste growing at a rate of 8%, the situation is becoming serious for a number of countries having to deal with the environmental and health impact caused by the landfills. Chinese authorities tried to put a stop to the e-waste trade by putting restrictions on what could be imported into the country back in 2000 but were unsuccessful. In the US, laws to stop the exportation of e-waste has failed to get through Congress on multiple occasions and it appears for the time being the e-waste problem will continue to grow.