In 2015, we reported on the grim reality of where unwanted electrical and electronic waste from the West ends up. In our blog Where Computers Go to Die, we revealed the day-to-day plight of the people living on a toxic waste dump in Accra, Ghana.
A Problem of Epic Proportions
The harrowing images taken by Kevin McElvaney showed the untold story of so-called ‘electronic graveyards’. Overrun with WEEE – old PCs, microwaves, fridges, laptops and phones – this mountain of electronic waste is thought to be worth a staggering £34billion.
While it’s a reality that many of us would prefer to ignore, the fact remains that non-compliant WEEE waste management is still happening. And the health and wellbeing of vulnerable people in places like Accra is bearing the brunt of these dangerous levels of toxicity.
BBC3 Highlight the WEEE Issue
A recent BBC3 documentary has elevated the seriousness of the situation in Africa, bringing the truth many would rather deny to the masses. TV and radio presenter Reggie Yates heads to Ghana to live on one of the largest electronic waste dumps in the world, Accra’s Agbogbloshie. In “The Insider – A Week on a Toxic Waste Dump”, Reggie lives and works alongside a group of ‘burner boys’, young men who sell copper they extract by burning waste. The risks are huge. Not only is there the threat of physical injury through manually breaking up the electronics, but serious health problems caused by the inhalation of fumes from burning heavy metals.
The documentary is very effective in making the link between the plight of the burner boys and irresponsible waste disposal in the West. In one scene, Reggie discovers items from Sainsbury’s and Curry’s.
If dumping electronic waste is illegal, how do products from leading British retailers end up here?
Beware and Don’t Cut Corners
Whereas WEEE waste management companies like iWaste have the capability and correct certification to dispose of unwanted items, many are not so compliant.
BEWARE of those that try to cut corners. Make sure you always request the correct paperwork and proof of secure destruction. If not on moral grounds, then remember your business could be fined for illegal disposal. Don’t cut corners and work only with the professionals.