Illegally exported E-Waste from the EU is processed under hazardous conditions in dumpsites such as the Agbogbloshie landfill in Ghana – Photo from Welcome to Sodom © Camino Filmverleih GmbH
Do you know what happens with your old phones, computers or kitchen appliances? Chances are high they are shipped illegally to Africa for recycling. Only 35% or 3.3 million tons of Europe’s Electronic Waste (E-Waste) is recycled properly. About 1.5 million tons per year are illegally exported as in 2012. That is twice the weight of the Golden Gate Bridge! Final destination of these exported E-Waste are dumpsites such as the infamous Olusosun Landfill in Lagos, Nigeria, or Agbogbloshie dumpsite in Accra, Ghana. There are people living on the site trying to make a living by searching the waste for valuable metals under horrendous conditions. Cables and housings are burned to get rid of the plastic covers. TVs and screens are smashed to get to the metals inside. Highly poisonous chemicals like mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic seep into the soil and groundwater. The toxic fumes released by these actions blow over the dumpsites and into the adjacent residential areas leading to massive health problems ranging from headaches, dizzy spells to skin rashes and damage to the nervous system. To see what it’s like, take a look at the documentation Welcome to Sodom.
But it does not have to be like this as all Electronic Waste is recyclable. Tackling the Electronic Waste crisis within Nigeria and the West African sub region is the goal to the E-Waste Relief Foundation, Nigeria’s foremost E-Waste non-profit organization. By championing the course of eco-friendly E-Waste management and recycling practices in Africa ERF helps to significantly reduce its impact on people and the environment. This is done via the promotion of public awareness on E-Waste, lobbying and training of relevant stakeholders on sustainable E-Waste management and recycling as well as supporting the creation of eco-friendly E-waste initiatives in Africa commencing from Nigeria.
The recycling of E-Waste serves a lot of useful purposes. It protects human and environmental health. Recovered parts from devices that still have value can be used again. The recycled metals can be used to make new products. And the implementation of a working waste management systems generates impactful jobs.
Group photo of participants of the Lagos E-Waste Handlers Capacity Enhancement Programme organized by ERF in partnership with E-Terra Technologies Ltd, Nigeria's leading electronic waste recycling company. © E-Waste Relief Foundation
As we at kepu share a similar goal - to rid the world from harmful waste - we decided to support the ERF by way of projects sponsorship. Proceeds received will assist the foundation to cover some of the costs associated with the programme’s activities. We are happy to partner with ERF to promote reuse and recycling and to make a positive impact on the environment by cutting down on unethical and harmful E-Waste disposal practices. Check out their web page at: https://ewasterelief.org/