The Dirty Truth About Where Your Old Electronics Go

We all know we should recycle our electronics, but we don’t really know what happens after we drop them off at the e-waste centre. So filmmaker Alex Gorosh followed his old iPhones, all the way to Agbogbloshie, Ghana, the largest electronics dump in the world. It’s a place so dirty and dangerous it’s nicknamed “Sodom and Gomorrah.”

It turns out about half of our discarded electronics are shipped overseas to places like Agbogbloshie where environmental regulations aren’t as strict. At this particular site, some of the gadgets are taken apart, their salvageable components sold. But the large majority of them are burned so the workers — largely teenagers — can scrap the metals inside. Check out more horrific images from these e-wastelands.

Watching Gorosh traipse through inky swamps of shattered flatscreens and flattened tablets, the haze of melting plastics and unpronounceable pollutants whipping around him, it’s clear that electronics “recycling” isn’t working out the way we’d hoped.

There is a better way. The film is a promotional piece for a service called Gizmogul, where you can donate your electronics via FedEx so they can be properly repaired, refurbished, or repurposed. There are many similar services out there, but Gizmogul seems especially comprehensive. And this way you can be sure your iPad never ends up smouldering in Agbogbloshie. [Gizmogul]