Harrowing images reveal one of west-Africa's vast electronic graveyards where 'millions of tons' of discarded appliances
from all over the world are being dumped every year.Thousands of broken televisions, computers, microwaves and refrigerators
are being illegally exported to African countries and dumped gigantic landfills like Agbogbloshie in Ghana because it costs
less than recycling them in their countries of origin, campaigners claim.
41 million tonnes of 'e-waste' worth over £34billion were discarded globally in 2014, according to shocking report by United
Nations University who claim only 6 million tonnes of that was recycled properly. The UK contributed 1.5 million tonnes of
waste to the staggering 11.6 Europe generated last year - putting it behind only Germany as the continent's greatest
contributor. That dwarfs the 1.9 million tonnes produced by the whole of Africa and yet the continent's western nations
have become a dumping ground for the world's defunct products. Some of the appliances even leak toxic elements such
as lead and mercury which harms the environment and the young men who trawl through the broken goods hoping to find
something worth selling. They've been found in toxic concentrations in the air, water, and even on the fruits and vegetables
at the wholesale market.
The shocking images taken by e-waste campaigners QAMP reveal how countless household appliances have contaminated
what was once the 'pastoral landscape' of Agbogbloshie in Accra.Photographs show young boys trawling through the western
world's scraps, dismantling old stereos and burning components to recover scrap metal which they will sell for small amounts
of money. Transporting broken or expired electronics to Africa is illegal but brokers exploit a loophole by fraudulently labelling
the items as reusable, according to the Head of United Nations University who believes Africa is becoming 'a graveyard for
e-waste'. When massive containers arrive in Ghana and Nigeria, they are trucked to remote locations where the locals can
buy the products directly without testing them to later sell in markets.
This sometimes-illegal and environmentally damaging practice plaguing Ghana is driven by cheap dumping prices in
comparison to the cost of recycling in the countries where it comes from. Recycling in the European Union and the UK
costs money. So if a broker successfully collects enough material and sends it to Africa, it could be in their interest because
in people in Africa are still paying for this.'
The 'recycling' of e-waste in Agbogbloshie is a dangerous business which often involves burning it in unmonitored landfill
sites, according to UNU. The waste discarded in 2014 contained around 300 tonnes of gold, 16 million tonnes of iron and
nearly two million tonnes of copper as well as significant amounts of silver, aluminium and palladium. And alarmingly, it also
contained 'substantial amounts' of life-threatening toxic material like mercury and cadmium which can cause organ failure
and severe mental impairment if they pollute the local water supply.
Source: Daily Mail