Toxic waste illegally sent to Africa

March 19, 2009 at 12:51 pm

The Independent, Sky News and Greenpeace recently joined forces to expose the shameful practice being carried out by Britain and other European countries of sending toxic electronic goods, that should be recycled, to a number of African countries, including Nigeria and Ghana. The raw materials within these products are then extracted by people working at the African dumps, including children, who are put at significant risk by the highly toxic contents.

Computers, laptops, TVs and numerous gadgets that are broken beyond repair have managed to find their way into these countries, despite strict government regulations that insist any electric products that cannot be reused, known collectively as e-waste, have to be recycled or dismantled by specialist contractors.

The investigation followed the journey taken by a broken TV which had been fitted with a satellite tracking device, which started at a site run by Hampshire County Council and ended up in a market in Lagos, Nigeria via a London-based dealer.

A spokesman for Hampshire County Council said that they were “extremely disappointed” about the discovery, and an investigation has now been launched. The spokesman emphasised that they “do not condone the exportation of televisions that cannot be reused”.

Claire Snow, who is the director of ICER (Industry Council for Equipment Recycling), said that it is clear the system “is not working as well as it should”, which is an understatement.

According to the government, 450,000 tonnes of e-waste is treated appropriately every year, but The Independent has said that this means 500,000 tonnes of e-waste is not being accounted for, and is probably ending up on foreign soil where it will put people’s health at risk.

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