Domestic e-waste generation surges in Africa

Domestic e-waste generation surges in Africa

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

A new report from the Basel Convention offers surprising insight into the role domestic generation of e-waste plays in African nations.

According to the Basel Convention's Where are WEEE in Africa report, "it is assumed that in 2010 between 50 – 85 percent of e-waste was domestically generated out of the consumption of new or used EEE of good quality with a reasonable life-span."

The findings are the latest in a series of studies that examine the flow of electronics in west Africa, with this specific study focusing on Benin, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia and Nigeria. Despite several recent high profile toxic dumping busts, the report found that the majority of electronics imported into the countries were functional.

For example, the study found that 30 percent of the electronics imported to Ghana in 2009 were non-functional. Of those non-functional electronics, half were refurbished and resold locally and half were dumped. Independent university research, such as a series of studies conducted by Arizona State University, have corroborated these findings.

Like much of the developing world, personal electronics use has surged in Africa. Ten times as many Africans now have access to personal computers, compared to a decade ago.

The report offers several recommendations, most notably that increased domestic generation of e-waste is a recycling and refurbishment challenge that is not being sufficiently addressed. The report concludes by saying:

"High volumes of domestically generated e-waste require well-functioning local take-back and recycling systems. Challenges include the establishment of appropriate collection strategies, ensuring that high volumes of valuable and non-valuable waste fractions are collected equally and that those fractions reach appropriate treatment and disposal facilities. In addition, connecting informal collectors to a formal recycling structure is pivotal, along with appropriate capacity building and training."

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Half Imported EEE is e-Waste for Benin an Cote d'Ivoire

From the same report: Field investigations in Benin and Côte d’Ivoire have shown that about half of the imported used EEE is actually non-functional and non-repairable, thus defined as import of e-waste.

“Sustainable solutions for e-waste management in Africa require measures aimed at imports and exports control, collection and recycling, policy and legislation that incorporate extended producer responsibility, recognize the important role of the informal sector, promote awareness raising and education, as well as compliance monitoring and enforcement. Appropriate health and safety measures for those involved in recycling, as well as environmentally sound practices, should be ensured,”   said Prof. Oladele Osibanjo, Director of Basel Convention Regional Coordinating Center for Africa, a co-author of the report.


30,000 Geeks of Color in Ghana - Report

Anonymous - The report clearly and definitively states that 30,000 repair technicians are behind the import economy, and NOT the few hundred "scrap boys" repeatedly depicted by watchdog groups.   The investigators found that imported containers are brought to retail locations, not to Agbogbloshie, and that the retail locations take back trade ins.   Absolutely, the "appropriate safety measures for those involved in recycling" should be ensured, there's no question.   The question is whether good people should export to Africa, in order to leverage the reuse economy to create those conditions.  The question is, Boycott Africa, or Fair Trade Recycling? - Robin Ingenthron