Do not burn e-waste to protect environment

Electronics, scrap, refrigeration and air-conditioner dealers, as well as phone repairers, have been advised not to burn any component of e-waste in the country.

Dumping of e-waste is prohibited, and it should be sent to collection centres – it is important to do the right thing in order to ensure sound environmental practices.

Mrs. Letitia Abra-Kom Nyaaba, Principal Programme Officer-Ghana National Cleaner Production Centre, said this at a cross-regional workshop on the E-MAGIN Project in Takoradi.

The three-day cross-regional workshop was attended by over 150 members of the Ghana Electronic Servicing and Technicians Association (GESTA), National Air-Conditioning Refrigeration Workshop Owners Association (NARWOA), and Scrap Dealers Association from the Western and Central Regions in Takoradi.

It was on the theme ‘From grave to cradle’ and funded by the European Union (EU), with the objective of improving management of e-waste in Ghana toward Sustainable Consumption Production (SCP).

Speaking on the topic ‘Current e-waste management, practices versus environmentally sound management practices’, Mrs. Nyaaba mentioned that there are technical e-waste guidelines for Ghana.

“Under the draft e-waste guidelines, the guiding principles or collectors under (Tier 1) applies to any person that collects, sorts or consolidates e-waste. On registration, a collector shall be registered with the relevant Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs), and in association with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),” she said.

Also, he said, under materials management standards a collector shall manage e-waste in a way that prevents release of gases, liquids, or solid particles from any e-waste or its components into the environment.

“The collector shall store e-waste on an impervious surface within a structure or a transportation unit, such that it is protected from precipitation. E-waste must be stored in such a way that it is not exposed to direct sunlight and rainfall,” she added.

Again, she said the guidelines state: “Ensure that whole units or fractions containing hazardous substances are stored in a manner that prevents dispersal of hazardous materials into the environment. Maintain adequate storage space and good housekeeping; transport, store and handle e-waste in a manner adequate to minimise damage; as well, do not mix e-waste with any other type of waste”.

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Mr. Yaw Sarfo-Afriyie, Western Regional Director of theEnvironmental Protection Agency (EPA), pointed out that that the challenge of sustainable e-waste management is not peculiar to Ghana alone but is a global phenomenon.

However, he said the problem’s magnitude varies from country to country; there is a convention on the trans-boundary movement and disposal of hazardous waste, which is the Basel Convention that Ghana has ratified.

“According to the Basel Convention, e-waste is categorised as hazardous waste due to the presence of toxic materials such as mercury, lead and brominated flame retardants. It recognises the act that these precious metals can by recovered, recycled and used as valuable source of secondary raw materials,” he added.

He explained that parliament, has passed the Hazardous and Electronic Waste Control and Management bill into law (Act 917). “One of the law’s objectives is to streamline activities in waste collection, management and recycling systems to save the country’s environment, which is in line with the Basel Convention.”

Prof. Rosemond Boohene, Project Coordinator of E-MAGIN, encouraged the individuals and groups to work toward effectively implementing the Hazardous and Electronic Waste Control Management Act.

She said it is important for individuals and/or associations to formalise their business: “If your business is formalised, you will be able to secure funding, obtain new business, experience operational efficiency, and increase productivity and growth”.

Also, she said suppliers, customers, banks, employees and investors find it comfortable to deal with a formalised business: “Go to the Registrar-General’s Department to register your business and then get your Tax Identification Number (GRA) from the Ghana Revenue Authority”.

She added that e-waste contributes economically to the country’s growth.

Mr. John Pwamang, Acting Executive Director of EPA, mentioned that e-waste is considered to be one of the fastest-growing waste-streams in the world, with an estimated 5%- 10% increase in global waste generation every year.

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“It contains toxic chemicals such as lead, cadmium, and some precious metals such as copper and gold,” he said.

He pointed out that lead smelters are causing various pollution problems in the country: “Effects of exposure to pollution are outbreaks of numerous disease and disorders for workers and adjoining local communities.

“Some of the interventions needed to address the pollution problems from lead-smelting can be inexpensive; and educational training can also be easily replicated and implemented throughout the country,” he added.

About the E-MAGIN Project

E-MAGIN is a four-year project supported with a grant from the European Union. The project, is being implemented by the University of Cape Coast, Adelph (Germany), Ghana National Cleaner Production Centre, and City Waste Recycling Limited.

The main objective is to improve management of e-waste in Ghana toward Sustainable Consumption, Production.

Specifically, E-MAGIN is to contribute to effective implementation of the Hazardous and Electronic Waste Control and Management Act 917 through the formalisation of informal Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs); establishment of a collection mechanism for e-waste; build capacity of the MSME’s to adopt best dismantling practices; provide information, support and create awareness among key target groups of the action.

The targets include informal MSMEs in the e-waste recycling, collection, dismantling and refurbishing business, formal sector, associations, manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors of consumers electronics, technical institutions and government authorities.

Other beneficiaries include employees of the MSMEs and their dependents, as well as local communities and government agencies in the e-waste sector.

The project is being implemented in eight regions: these are the Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Central, Eastern, Greater Accra, Northern, Volta and Western Regions.

Activities to be undertaken include value chain assessment and best practices analysis; creation or reactivation of formal sector associations; capacity building and trainer of trainers, as well as policy dialogue.

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