A few weeks ago I wrote about a Greenpeace report that explained the illegal dumping of electronic waste in Ghana. Today, I will further discuss this issue through my discussion of the Guardian’s “UK e-waste illegally dumpedin Ghana”. This article was written in 2011, three years after the report, which was written in 2008. It seems Panorama and the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) conducted a joint investigation which showed that a third party company had been sending electronic waste from Environment Waste Controls (EWC) to West Africa, which eventually ends up in Ghana.
The third party company had been buying television sets for £1.50 to £2.00 each (4.60 GHS to 6.13 GHS), then exporting them to Ghana or Nigeria. As per the Waste Electrical and Electronic (WEEE) Resources Regulations of 2006, electronic waste that has been tested and is in working condition could be exported, no problem. The thing is,
the EIA hid tracking devices inside television sets which had been disabled beyond repair and left them at the Merton and Croydon sites. Several weeks later, according to the group, GPS signals indicated that one TV had been shipped to Nigeria, ending up near a well known e-waste recycling centre, and one was found to have arrived in Ghana.
This shows that the checks were either not carried out or not properly done. The WEEE states that these sets must be sent to another core country, not to West Africa. In response to this report, EWC claimed working at preventing this from happening again.
As in the Greenpeace article, the Guardian Environmental Network explains some of the hazards of electronic waste on the environment and on humans, such as chemical mixtures and lead found in different parts of television sets. We must remember that when this waste is stripped in less than ideal conditions, these substances are released.
Also, it seems that the electronic waste trade has become a part of organised crime, something I do plan to explore in the future. Until then, here is a quote by Lawrence Summers:
I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to it.