what a waste - maren urban swart, danwatch

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  1. 1. Key Findings An estimated 600 pieces of 40-foot containers are shipped to Tema Port each month as reusablesecond-hand items that are imported by Ghanaian e-shops and brokers. Great Britain, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Italy and Spain are the top seven Europeancountries that export used computers to Ghana. The authorities in Ghana do not know whetherthese computers are functional or obsolete. Computers from England, Denmark, Sweden and the USA formerly owned by the municipalities,institutions and companies have ended up in Agbogbloshie. Thousands of people are working in the informal waste industry in Ghana. Children constitutearound 40 percent of the scrap workers at Agbogbloshie dumpsite. Health-damaging exposure to e-waste can result in long term, often irreversible, effects such asinfertility, miscarriage, tumors, endocrine diseases and birth defects. The workers often suffer fromcuts, coughs, headaches, upper respiratory problems, rashes and burns. Currently there is not any legislation in Ghana, and the country has only one recycling facility withthree workers that cannot possibly manage all the incoming shipments of electronic waste as wellas the domestically generated e-waste.
  2. 2. Influx of used electronicsThere are various reasons of why Western second-hand electronics and e-waste end up here: Computers sent to Ghana in charity, among others by NGOs. Relatives who send used electronics to their families in Ghana. Computers under the guise of being second-hand reusable electronics, but which are actuallyto be considered waste, derived from brokers and landfills in Europe, etc. Computers purchased by European brokers from different European companies. Researchconducted in Denmark shows that a large proportion of Danish companies and somegovernment departments prefer to sell their computers to a broker rather than pay for thedismantling.
  3. 3. Registration number of articles in the Danish media Main story and detailed article in the newspaper Kommunen June 17, 2010 An article in MS magazine, Action Magazine, April 2010, which has a circulation of 8000. An article in Ibisposten, December 2009. Ritzau Telegram brought on all the countrys largest news home pages as well as local mediaon 17th June 2010 where eb.dk alone has about 1,350,000 users a month. The story has also been versioned to include DR regional websitesmediaproviders.dk and the English-language media copenhagenpost.dk. The story has also been brought on a number of foreign media websites, includingGreenland, South American and African.
  4. 4. makeITfairs priorities At this point in time, figures on collection, recycling and trade flows of e-waste and used electronics are surrounded by unclarity, which complicates the identification of an effective intervention strategy. makeITfair has identified the following governmental relevant actions. Setting minimum requirements for used electronic products intended for export,monitoring destinations of used elec- tronics, and legislating that exporters of usedelectronics must obtain export permission from the authorities and be inpossession of relevant paper work. Establishing a national e-waste authority that monitors e-waste collection,recycling and export flows. This authority should proactively identify the loopholesin the national e-waste system, by examining whether producer responsibil- itycompliance and local control at recycling stations are sufficient. At the same timethe communication between the main e-waste receiving countries and Europeancountries should be increased to create a greater oversight of the mag- nitude ofthe e-waste trade. This allows a quick identification of new e-waste hotspots andinformation sharing about illegal exporters.