Agbogbloshie. This is the name of one of the biggest e-waste dumpsites in Africa. Some people refer to it as “Sodom and Gomorrah”. 40.000 people live on or near this dumpsite in Ghanas’ capital Accra. Electronic waste, primarily from Western Europe, is imported and brought to this landfill for waste processing. E-waste, or electronic waste, refers to a wide range of discarded electronic devices. Those include televisions, screens, microwaves, refrigerators and many more. Dealing with this waste brings along some concerning issues.
Concerning methods of waste processing
Safely recycling electronic waste is extremely difficult. Due to the lack of professional recycling methods, people smash and burn the waste to recover the valuable resources inside the e-waste, including lead and phthalates. Especially the burning of electronic waste releases high amounts of those toxic chemicals. Furthermore, the low to non-existent protection of the workers contributes to the extremely bad working conditions. One example of these consequences is revealed through the aluminium exposure of the workers. Samples taken from workers at Agbogbloshie showed, that the exposure levels of aluminium has been at 17 mg/m³ compared with the ACGIH TLV guideline of 1 mg/m³.
Not only is this a harm to the people working and living there, but these „recycling-methods“ affect the whole environment. The Blacksmith Institute did research on the pollution level of lead and other heavy metals and found out that the lead level in the soil of Agbogbloshie is 40 times higher than the standard for lead in soil, making it one of the most polluted places in the world.
In need of solutions
Sadly enough, Agbogbloshie is not the only example of dumpsites that have a huge negative effect on their surroundings. The report that was presented above only stresses the urgent need to find solutions on how to handle the electronic waste problem. The revolving question is: How can we solve issues like this?
With the biggest amount of E-waste being brought to Agbogbloshie coming from Western countries, we are defenitely facing a global problem. And that is the reason why Global Pioneers is looking for solutions from all around the globe to waste problems like this. At this point we want to encourage young entrepreneurs and start-ups to join our competition. We as Global Pioneers want to support those ideas that contribute to solving pressing problems. The winners of our competition await funding as well as an invitation to our workshop in Berlin. Get the chance to realize your idea with our support and apply now! For more information on the process and the applying necessities, visit our FAQ. We are thrilled to hear about your ideas!