Aussie ‘E-Waste Hell' In Ghana

This is not a happy story to start your Monday with. That TV or computer you put out for recycling, feeling all eco-friendly? It's killing children in Ghana.

SBS Dateline ran a story last night on the illegal dumping of e-waste in Ghana, and its effect on the environment there. So the story alleges, many electronic goods, including waste from Australia that’s legally meant to be responsibly recycled is instead being shipped off-shore under the guise of being working second-hand products. Instead, they’re broken down by children who search through tonnes of waste -- the story states that some 500 containers of e-waste arrive every month -- for the recyclable wiring. The waste that can’t be scavenged by children is burnt, releasing toxins into the air. That’d be the air that the children scavenging for copper have to breathe, as well as the food supplies for the entire city. Everyone’s getting poisoned, in other words.

The full video is here. It’s not easy watching, but it’s quite vital and compelling.

According to the release sent out by SBS, an investigation has begun into the e-waste shipments scam, noting that

As a result of Dateline’s investigation to be shown on SBS on Sunday night, the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPAC), with the assistance of Customs and Border Protection, has launched an investigation into exportation of e-waste from Australia to Ghana, and is also undertaking a review of the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989.

[SBS Dateline]

Image: SBS



    that's why I refuse to chuck out any "e-waste" unless its going to certifable recycling schemes. Yes it means I have a large amount of old computers, monitors and the such. I'm actually tempted to break it down myself.

    Copper is going for $50 a KG or $12 KG when you by say 10-20 tonne. It'll be my retirement grease.

    I saw a similar documentary on this issue a few months back. So I don't think SBS has uncovered the story but I am glad that they are bringing attention to the problem.

    Ye this is what the governments new e-waste product stewardship bill is meant to address. Lets hope they do a good job and don'y screw it up like they do most things. I'm actually partially involved with it and I'm trying to do my part.

    So essentially the ewaste recycling intro to the futurama episode Attack Of The Killer App was pretty much non-fiction then... very depressing

    Imagine if this was happening in outer Melbourne or Sydney. Shit would hit the fan.
    But this is Ghana. That's fine.

      Yeah i agree, stuff em

    Every few months the local council has free bulk waste collection and each time it rolls around you see scores of old TV's, computers, printers and other assorted e-waste lining the footpaths waiting to be collected.

    I guess now we know where it all ends up as local council sure isn't about to pay the high price of certified e-waste recycling.

    Copied from 'LH'
    Hah,.. we buy the vast amount of our electronics at a vastly reduced rate because it’s produced by people who are not being paid enough! Hence we accumulate a vast amount of waste, because the vast majority of what we buy is broken or out of date within a year, and then we wonder why it all ends up in a land fill in a country that can’t afford to say no!! Hah hah haaaa, bloody hell! OK I’ll get down off the box now! #]

    Just curious to know, how can anything be shipped off to Ghana as second hand without the Governing body's knowledge? As far as I know nobody other than the government agencies have the capacity to ship 500 containers worth e-waste.

    Trust me, the third world countries were not third world countries to begin with!!

    Well played to "chugs"... retirement grease... I rarely actually lol, but I did in fact lol at work just now and made a fool of myself, thank you kind sir.

    So ... ?

    It's in Ghana. If they don't want the stuff, they can stop accepting it by the truckload.

      Are you saying it's okay to take advantage of a poor country?

        Don't think that's what he's saying at all. What he might be saying is that the Ghanan government is aware of what is happening and has sanctioned it, how else would the waste be entering the country? i dont think this is the work of some clandestine operation, do you?

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