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Western Electronic Waste Dumped in Ghana: Greenpeace

August 6, 2008

Western electronic waste dumped in Ghana: Greenpeace

BRUSSELS, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) — Much of the Netherlands’ spent electronic equipment ends up in Africa, despite a European ban on exporting these items, environmental group Greenpeace has concluded after investigating a large scrap yard in Ghana.

About 79 percent of the electronic equipment dumped in the African country comes from Western Europe, including France, Germany, Britain and the Netherlands, Dutch media reported Tuesday quoting Greenpeace.

The illegal dumping is causing serious soil pollution in Ghana, according to tests carried out by the organization.

Large quantities of toxic materials, including lead and dioxins, have been found in the ground at scrap metal dumps in Ghana, said Greenpeace.

The environmental organization said that televisions and other electronic items of Dutch manufacturer Philips were found there. It called on Philips to honor its promises and make sure all electronic equipment is recycled in the Netherlands.

After reports in June about the dumping of spent electronic equipment in Africa, chairman of the Philips board Gerard Kleisterlee said: “There’s none of our goods there. I am sure of it. We have arrangements in place in the Netherlands.”

The dumping of used electronic devices is illegal but the Dutch system for collecting this waste is “as leaky as a colander”, Greenpeace said.

Philips resists collection efforts outside Europe where manufacturers are held personally responsible for the recycling and processing of spent goods, the organization said.

But many old televisions and computers still end up in the informal economy in Africa. Ghanaian traders buy the goods in Europe and sidestep the export ban by labeling them as “second-hand equipment”. Many of the items emerge to be defective upon arrival.

In Ghana, such electronics are stripped for spare parts and the cables are burned outdoors. This releases hazardous substances into the air and soil, Greenpeace said.

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