Meeting the Challenge of E-waste in Africa

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Start:1st of November 2009
Division:
Sustainable Products & Material Flows
Description:E-waste contains many valuable metals such as gold, silver, palladium, aluminium, steel and copper. Recovery of aluminium, steel and copper from e-waste is an important livelihood strategy for many poor people in West Africa. However, e-waste also contains many hazardous substances such as lead, cadmium, brominated flame retardants and PVC. Due to a lack of recycling and waste management infrastructure, some of the toxic parts of e-waste can not currently be managed safely in most developing countries, and hence cause damage to the environment, and the health of the workers and local communities. In the process, many valuable metals entailed in e-waste are also lost. In projects carried out in Ghana (commissioned by Inspectorate of the Dutch Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment and the Dutch Recycling Association) and Nigeria (commissioned by the United Nations Environment Programme), the Öko-Institut cooperates with local research partners to study the socio-economic impacts of the informal e-waste sector as well as the currently practiced recycling systems in comparison with the best-available recycling technologies. Drawing from these analysis, recommendations to improve the environmental and social profile of the sectors are given.
Authors involved:Prakash, Siddharth
Manhart, Andreas