New "E-waste" Report Coming out from Ghana

 Newly released research on European exports to Ghana reportedly show:

1) Average Ghana resident cannot afford new.
2) 215,000 tons of electronics (new, used, including white goods) shipped 2009-11
3) 30% new, 70% used
4) 15% of used not repairable, "along for the ride"
5) Dumps chronicled by BAN are accumulations of 15%, or of product exhausted after use
6) Used equipment may only last 2 years.
7)  70% of exhausted product is recycled, yielding 42% value, rest is residue
8)  Currently there is no infrastructure for the "hazardous fraction" of the WEEE

The solution appears to be increase quality, reduce TAR, give greater choices, fair trade.  Just what we said at Massachusetts DEP in 1998, just what EPA reviewed in 2005 for the CRT rule.    The Retroworks de Mexico (proper recycling of fallout) is the correct solution for the proper recovery and hazardous fraction.
The study includes a stakeholder and massflow assessment, taking into account the whole chain from imports to final disposal of the four waste electric and electronic equipment (WEEE) categories 'large household appliances', 'small household appliances', information and communication technologies' and 'consumer electronics'. The EEE imports into Ghana in 2009 added up to 215'000 tons comprised of about 30% new products and 70% second hand EEE. Around 15% of the second hand imports were estimated to be unsellable. Due to high amounts of second hand imports, Ghana has a high availability of second hand EEE which makes these products available for a large share of the population, but also leads to a high e-waste generation per year. About 171'000 tons of WEEE from consumers, repair shops and communal collection reached the informal recycling sector in 2009 where WEEE is dismantled and sorted into various valuable and non-valuable fractions. Valuable fractions, which account for
 around 42% of the material treated, are then sold to dealers, which again sell the material to local industries or export it. Non-valuable fractions are informally dumped and periodically burnt, in order to reduce the waste volumes on the dump site. Currently there is no infrastructure available for the environmentally sound disposal of the hazardous fraction from WEEE.
If the problem is a residual fraction, let's set up fair trade operations, like Retroworks de Mexico and partnershihps in Indonesia and Malaysia and Thailand and Signapore, which properly deal with the fraction, rather than throw the Geeks of Color and manufacturer-takeback factories into the soup.  Forcing importers to choose between sham recyclers is less effective than fair trade incentives.

This has been my directive since I set up the first in the USA waste ban on CRTs in Massachusetts, while at DEP, in 1998.  MA and VT achieved higher diversion at lower cost to consumers in the decade from 2000-2010, allowing for the export of a small percentage - less than 25% - for reuse by overseas recyclers who agreed to provide data and improve their operations.

That approach is opposed by three groups:  Planned Obsolescence companies opposed to the secondary market, Shredding investors, and a small ill-informed NGO in Seattle Washington which has never visited the factories they are trying to destroy, never looked in the eye of a Technician of Color who relies on a job providing internet to geeks in Cairo to feed his children.

The report again raises concern, like the ASU study of exports to Peru, and the confession by source for their "80%" bad exports number, that BAN may be knowingly promulgating false data and bad statistics.  I don't think this is a mistake any more, if it is, time is running out.  If you make a mistake and refuse to correct it, at some point you are guilty of fraud.

The question is whether there is a financial "payola" mechanism between the three groups opposed to fair trade exports.   Are OEMs paying shredders, who pay BAN?

I hope they will sue me, and I hope people will help me with my legal bills.   Here is the abstract of the study, I look forward to seeing it and using it to improve on our fair trade export practices.  I am not perfect, I know we are not perfect.  But we are trying and we are putting our own money into this. They are taking money away from the techs of color, and wildly exaggerating a fraction of byproduct to be 80% of all shipments of all e-waste.  SHAME.

Reminds me of the comments left on our 2007 WR3A "Recycling to Africa" Video.

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