Making A Difference: Transforming An E-Waste Site Into A Model Recycling Center

Agbogbloshie_Ghana_girls in wheelbarrowWhile we work to help companies recycle e-waste responsibly in the U.S., our sister nonprofit Pure Earth is working to tackle the issue in Agbogbloshie, Ghana, the location of one of the world’s best-known e-waste dump sites.

According to the EPA, about 2.37 million short tons of e-waste was discarded in the U.S. in 2009. It is not known how much is exported but some of the e-waste from around the globe ends up in Agbogbloshie, Ghana. It is estimated that the amount of e-waste flowing into Ghana could double by 2020.

What happens to e-waste there?

Much of it is burned to extract the valuable materials within, and this has poisoned thousands who live in and around Agbogbloshie.

The community’s blackened landscape is evidence of the damage done, some of which is irreversible.

“Everywhere you look you see pieces of circuit boards, televisions, refrigerators, irons, etc. The toxic chemicals released are spread throughout the area when it rains and of course spread to the homes each evening. What especially troubled me was the path of the toxic smoke that floats right into the food market. So whatever doesn’t get into your lungs can now settle onto the food supply of Accra.”

– Dr. Jack Caravanos. Read more of his first-hand account in Report from Ghana’s Agbogbloshie.

Last week, Pure Earth opened a new e-waste recycling center in Agbogbloshie that could stop the burning and save lives. How?

Proper recycling is the key.

Agbogbloshie recyclers who were sent to Sweden saw that recycling could be done in a safe, non-toxic way.  Now, efforts are starting to transform Agbogbloshie into a model recycling center.

See photos, and read how simple recycling machines could be changing lives in Agbogbloshie (The Pollution Blog)

Great Forest is a proud supporter of Blacksmith Institute for a Pure Earth, a nonprofit that works to clean up some of the world’s worst polluted communities, where children are poisoned everyday. Each month we feature a story about Making A Difference.

Sign up for "3 to Zero (Waste)." Get 3 tips each month + insights.