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Ghana to set up e-waste recycling plant

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Considering the rising cases of e-waste dumping sites in Ghana, the government has concluded plans to set up e-waste recycling plant.

Experts say e-waste poisons the land and underground water sources with a cocktail of heavy metal chemicals such as cadmium, lead, barium, mercury, arsenic and polybromynated flame retardants. These are dangerous both to humans and the environment.

It is known that 20 to 50 million tons of e-waste are generated in the world annually and a great amount of that ends up in developing countries including Ghana and Nigeria.

The only scientific study ever done on the e-waste situation in the country, puts the volume of e-waste that reaches the informal recycling sector in Ghana at 171,000 metric tonnes. The study was done in 2011.

According to the report, which gathered data from Ghana’s ports of entry, electronics sales points, Customs, Excise and Preventive Services (CEPS) among others, the electronics and electrical equipment (EEE) imports into Ghana in 2009 added up to 215,000 tons and a per capita import of 9kg.

The report released in March 2011, said about 30 per cent of the imports comprised of new products and 70 per cent second hand EEE. Around 15 per cent of the second hand imports were estimated to be unsellable. The unsellable items, the report described as those that would not respond to power, are broken or outdated. It also found that a significant portion of these were destined directly to the informal recycling sector. Another 20 per cent of the imports can be serviced (repaired/refurbished) to get them functioning, it added.

It has been reported that informal recyclers operating in the country collect obsolete electronics and electrical equipment, dismantle them and remove valuable parts. They often burn cables to extract copper wires for sale. They do these in the open and without any protective clothing, despite the inherent dangers that they are possibly exposed to from the toxic chemicals contained in e-waste.


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