A study into the Waste Electrical and electronic Equipment (WEEE) market was undertaken in the Accra-Tema area of Ghana between November 2009 and January 2011 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Green Advocacy of Ghana, supported by the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA).
This study was developed within the framework of the Secretariat of the Basel Convention e-Waste Africa Project which aims to contribute towards elimination of illegal exports of e-waste from industrialised countries and to augment the sustainable management of resources through the recovery of materials in e-wastes.
During the study, it became clear when investigating mass flows that the main problems and challenges are to be found at the import as well as at the recycling and disposal stages. There is some awareness among Ghanaians of the environmental impacts associated with incorrect disposal of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), especially within the capital city , Accra; however, due to the lack of environmentally sound disposal options, most obsolete equipment is either given to informal collectors or stored.
Dismantled, Sorted, Burned and Dumped
Currently, there is no infrastructure for the environmentally sound disposal of the hazardous fraction from WEEE. A policy and legislation analysis illustrates that, in Ghana, there currently exists neither a specific policy nor legislation governing WEEE management. In the grey informal disposal industry WEEE is dismantled and sorted into various valuable and non-valuable fractions. lf necessary, a piece of equipment (or parts of it) is burned in order to obtain more valuable fractions which are then sold to dealers who, in turn, either sell on the material to local Industries or export it.
Non-valuable fractions are dumped and periodically burned. With these activities, large amounts of hazardous substances are released, with little or no thought given to the safety of the workers and to protection of the environment. The result is significant negative impact on soil, air and water as well as on human health.
The few formal recyclers that exist can’t compete because they have to cover the cost of disposing of the hazardous residues. The in-formal collectors on the other hand do not bother about the hazardous fractions generated and thus are able to pay ‘competitive’ prices for the WEEE.
It was estimated that in total about 30 tons was handled by formal recyclers in 2009, about 0.2‰ of all the total WEEE treated by recyclers (formal or informal)
Illegal Imports of WEEE
Regarding imports of WEEE, Ghana has ratified the Basel Convention on the control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, which prohibits imports and exports of e-waste, but its provisions have yet to beincorporated into national legislation.
As regards imports of second-hand equipment, energy efficiency regulations – which prohibit the import, sale and distribution of second-hand refrigerators, freezers and air-conditioners came into force in 2010 but no enforcement takes place. Imports of other second-hand equipment such as computers and televisions are not regulated. There are a number of laws and regulations, such as the Environmental Protection Agency Act, that have some relevance to the control and management hazardous wastes (including WEEE), but they do not address the dangers posed to humans and the environment from such wastes. Specific regulations covering the environmentally sound handling of e-waste and the disposal of hazardous fractions are not available.
The full 123 page report can be found here
Ghana: A Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Policy Vacuum
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