Call to End E-Waste Dumping in Developing Countries

Posted on 7 May 2008. Filed under: Environment, ICT |

The world federation of consumer organisations, Consumers International (CI), today called for tighter government monitoring to prevent the continued dumping of toxic e-waste on the developing world.

The call comes as investigations by CI’s corporate watchdog partner, DanWatch, indicate that half a million second-hand computers are imported to Nigeria every month. The vast majority are obsolete and soon dumped on waste sites around the port city of Lagos.

This is just the tip of the 6.6 millions tons of unaccounted for e-waste that leaves EU countries each year*.

The situation calls into question the effective enforcement of the Basel Convention Ban Amendment*, to which the EC is a signatory. The Basel Ban is meant to outlaw the dumping of e-waste on the developing world, but inadequate monitoring of the quality of second-hand electrical goods shipments means millions of obsolete products continue to flood into Africa.

Professor Oladele Osibanjo, director at the Basel Convention Regional Co-ordinating centre for Africa said:
“We have about half a million used computers coming into the Lagos port every month, and only 25 per cent of these are working. Seventy five per cent is junk. The volume is so large, that the people who trade it, just burn it like ordinary refuse.”

The investigations revealed computers dumped at sites outside Lagos and the Ghanaian capital Accra from institutions such as Westminster City Council, The World Bank and numerous European, American and Asian companies.

These mountains of e-waste are poisoning the water supplies and damaging local people’s health.

Benjamin Holst, co-founder and editor of DanWatch observed:
“We filmed children as young as six searching for metal scraps in the earth, which was littered with the toxic waste from thousands of shattered cathode ray tubes. A whole community is virtually living and working in this highly toxic environment, which is growing everyday as a consequence of Western countries mismanaging their e-waste.”

Consumers International is calling for exporting countries to implement tougher monitoring procedures to ensure second-hand electronic goods are in a meaningful working order before being shipped. Obsolete electrical equipment is waste and, as such, illegal to export to developing countries. It should be disposed of or recycled in the country of origin using environmentally sustainable methods.

Luke Upchurch, Head of Media at Consumers International said:
“Million of tons of e-waste disappears from the developed world every year and continues to reappear in developing countries, despite international bans being in place. That 500,000 second-hand, mostly obsolete, computers can still enter Nigeria every month simply makes a mockery of efforts to prevent the dumping of e-waste in Africa. Stricter monitoring and enforcement by the wealthy exporting nations is urgently needed.”

* http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/weee/pdf/final_rep_unu.pdf

Note

1. Consumers International (CI) is the only independent global campaigning voice for consumers. With over 220 member organisations in 115 countries, we are building a powerful international consumer movement to help protect and empower consumers everywhere. For more information, visit http://www.consumersinternational.org

2. DanWatch is a corporate watchdog working to document the exploitation of labour, environment and natural resources in developing nations hosting western workplaces, investments, trade and production. The organisation is co-founded and co-funded by the Danish Consumer Council

3. The Basel Convention Ban Amendment bans all forms of hazardous waste exports from the 29 wealthiest most industrialised countries of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to all non-OECD countries. It still permits the export of used electronic equipment for second-hand use. http://www.basel.int/pub/baselban.html

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One Response to “Call to End E-Waste Dumping in Developing Countries”

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I have seen e-dumping happen in Kenya too!


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