The approval of an agreement between the government of Ghana and Societe General De Surveillance SA (SGS) on E-Waste management is expected to raise revenue of approximately US$100m annually, a parliamentary report has revealed.
“The programme will help generate an estimated revenue of approximately US$100m annually to government through the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation and the EPA.”
This was contained in a report of the Committee on Environment, Science and Technology on the E-Waste Management Agreement between Ghana represented by the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation and the Environmental Protection Agency and Societe General De Surveillance SA (SGS), which was approved by Parliament before it went on recess last month.
Chairman of the Committee on Environment, Science and Technology – Emmanuel Agyarko, indicated that the agreement will ensure e-waste in Ghana is properly treated and disposed of to prevent all its accompanying diseases.
Diseases like heavy-metal poisoning brought about by the burning of e-waste will also be prevented.
The project will additionally generate new job opportunities directly for those who collect the e-waste and indirectly for those who buy recovered materials.
Under the Basel Convention with regard to operationising the agreement, the ministry and EPA had two options to choose from – the first of which was to review the importation of all shipments into the country marked as waste or used items.
The second was for the EPA to collaborate with a globally networked private firm that undertakes an innovative modular approach and allows for the physical inspection of shipments – to determine the country of origin and validity of each consignment to ascertain if the e-waste is a used or new item.
It will further involve application of a scheme that will see to the collection of Advanced Recycle Eco fees on all regulated electrical and electronic items, under the ‘polluter pays’ principle.
An e-waste recycling plant will be built to address the challenge of e-waste dumping in the country. The second option has been chosen since it provides a comprehensive e-waste management solution.
Implementing the agreement’s provisions will help Ghana avoid further being used as a dumping ground for hazardous waste products.
It will provide for objective reports on the nature of shipments declared as ‘used’ products rather than ‘waste’.
The Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation and its implementing agency the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will embark on a programme for the physical collection of electronic waste products and recycling them responsibly.
The programme will be the main game-changer in government’s efforts to protect the population and environment from harmful effects of the hazardous materials found in electronic products.
Implementation of the innovative solution design has the potential to create over 20,000 full-time jobs for the youth – including those engaged in the practice of burning e-waste items, across the country within the first year of implementation. The ecological environment will also be improved.
Furthermore, managing the e-waste programme will enable the country to achieve six of the Strategic Development Goals(SDG). They include goal three (good health and well-being); goal six (clean water and sanitation); goal eleven (sustainable cities and communities); goal 12 (reasonable consumption and production); goal 8 (decent work and economic growth); and goal 14 (life below water).
There is no financial requirement from government toward implementing the project. The ministry and EPA will enter into a contractual agreement with SGS as the designated external service provider pursuant to Section 21 of Act 917, 2016.
Additionally, SGS will use its presence in the over-200 countries globally to assess the advance Recycle Eco Fee for the government of Ghana through the ministry and its agency. SGS will remit the revenues generated from collecting the advanced Eco levy on the agreed terms.
SGS will retain 15 percent of the net Eco levy to be collected and remit 85 percent on a monthly basis to the government of Ghana.
Africa’s biggest e-waste dump at Agbobloshie is estimated to generate a significant proportion of the world’s 11.2 billion tonnes of solid waste. This volume of e-waste continues to grow on a yearly basis, posing varying environmental and economic hazards to the country.
The increasing volumes and complexity of waste associated with the modern economy pose serious risks to ecosystems and human health.
Waste from electrical/electronic equipment, end-of-life vehicles, used-tires containing new and complex hazardous substances present the fast-growing challenges in both developed and developing countries. Exposure to hazardous substances in and around sites, dismantling electronic and electrical waste (e-waste) pose numerous health and safety risks for waste collectors, recyclers and neighbouring communities.
Marginalised populations disproportionately suffer the negative effects of improper e-waste disposal practices.
Processing electronic waste presents a serious health threat to workers at Agbobloshie. The fumes released from burning the plastic and metals used in electronics are composed of highly toxic chemicals and carcinogens. Workers often inhale lead, cadmium, dioxins, furans, phthalates and brominated flame retardants.
Exposure to these fumes is especially hazardous to children, as these toxins are known to inhibit development of the reproductive system, nervous system and the brain in particular. In similar e-waste productive areas with conditions and demographics like those of Agbogbloshie, 80 percent of the children have dangerous levels of lead in their blood.
It is in view of the above that an Act to provide for the control, management and disposal of hazardous waste, electrical waste and for related purposes was passed in 2016.