What happens to our unwanted electronic goods?
In our world of ever-advancing technology, how many of us actually take a moment to consider where our latest electronic victims – supplanted by the newest must-haves – end up after being callously deserted by us at the local refuse centre.
Hundreds of tonnes of it make the journey every year from Europe and North America to Accra, the capital city of Ghana, where its dropped in one of the largest electronic waste dumping grounds in the world, Agbogbloshie. The mounds of toxic waste there are made up of our unwanted computers, laptops, cameras, mobile phones and televisions.
For the men who work at Agbogbloshie, it is a chance to earn good money in a country suffering from intense poverty. These men work their way through the piles of rubbish and pick out the useful metals, while the remaining plastic is burned in their wake. The metals are then sold on for cash, but this money comes at a higher cost.
The toxins produced by cadmium, lead, Mercury, and arsenic, all of which are found in e-waste, are the most dangerous in the world and the Accra e-waste scrapyard is now one of the most polluted places on earth. Campaigners in Ghana believe that the dangerous effects of these toxins can already be seen in the area and especially in the health of the Agbogbloshie workers.
In the face of an estimated 93 million tonnes of electronic waste that is expected to be produced in 2016, campaigners and experts around the world believe that now is the time for the producers of electronic goods to stand-up and bear some responsibility.
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