Agbogbloshie: are you aware of this?

A snapshot of Agbogbloshie from above. The eWaste dump is eating the forest like a cancer spreading over the land. Credit photo: Justin Weinrich

Agbogbloshie is probably the world largest eWast dump in the world (not a landfill, eWaste is simply dumped and not managed).

It is located in Ghana, south of its capital city Accra. Agbogbloshie receives every year hundreds of thousands of metric tonnes of eWaste, courtesy of Europe and North America.

People are scavenging the eWaste to retrieve copper and in the process (they burn the devices/equipment "carrion") they disperse dangerous substances in the environment: mercury, lead, cadmium and arsenic. Plus the toxic fumes generated may contain other noxious substances like dioxins, also known as Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP) that enter the food chain and hit living beings cells. Incidentally, Ghana is a major exporter of cocoa beans and we may find some of these pollutants in that nice chocolate bar we like so much.

To view some dramatic photos of Agbogbloshie you can take a look at the Guardian report. Most of the people scavenging the eWaste are dying in their 20ies.

Images like these should trigger our sense of responsibility by making us aware of the side effects of our electronic world. Recycling is what needs to be done, and it should be done properly, even if it is economically costly.

Part of the focus of the joint EIT Climate/Digital/Raw material eWaste project is about raising awareness, particularly in the younger generation that is so eager to "consume" electronic products and to move on to get the latest one becoming available.

Author - Roberto Saracco

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