On E-Waste (Environmental Waste) in Ghana

The upcoming film CIRCUIT CITY is about life + work in one of the world’s largest electronic waste dumps, with high tech toxic trash causing horrendous pollution in Ghana. It is the story of China, a young farmer from northern Ghana who lands in Accra scavenging toxic waste for copper, brass, and aluminum to sell. Directed by Mantse Aryeequaye for REDD Kat Pictures.

CIRCUIT CITY from REDD Kat Pictures on Vimeo.

How Significant is E-waste in Ghana?
In August 2008, the international NGO Greenpeace published a feature story on e-waste in Ghana after discovering that electronic waste was being shipped illegally to places like Ghana and Nigeria from the UK and the United States.

As described in the article:

In the yards, unprotected workers, many of them children, dismantle computers and TVs with little more then stones in search of metals that can be sold. The remaining plastic, cables and casing is either burnt or simply dumped…

Some of the samples contained toxic metals including lead in quantities as much as one hundred times above background levels. Other chemicals such as phthalates, some of which are known to interfere with sexual reproduction, were found in most of the samples tested.  One sample also contained a high level of chlorinated dioxins, known to promote cancer.“Poisoning the poor: Electronic Waste in Ghana, Greenpeace (2008)

 It seems e-waste is becoming a bigger and bigger issue for African countries. The recent documentary “Welcome to Lagos” by the BBC featured an e-waste dump.

More on E-Waste in Africa:
“Unfair Trade e-waste in Africa,” by Charles Schmidt (April 2006)
“Europe’s e-waste in Africa,” Ghana Business News (May 2009)
“Electronic Waste Dumping on Ghana Still Continues,” Ghanaweb.com (Auust 2010)