The burning of e-waste generates some harmful substances which threaten the environment and human health but despite outlawing this, in 2016, the lack of enforcement of the law has resulted in such activities continuing, by some scrap dealers.
The passage of the Hazardous and Electronic Waste Control and Management Act (Act 917) provides the need to regulate the activities of operators in the electronic waste management sector to ensure sanity.
However, the Project Manager of Adelphi, Mr. Ebenezer Kumi, says the ‘laxity’ in the application of the law is to blame for the refusal of some scrap dealers to halt their activities which pollutes the environment.
E-waste, while it could be hazardous to the environment and health also contains a lot of valuable components if properly managed and recycled. But the inability to ensure the proper regulation of the activities of those involved undermines the health of the people directly affected.
It is predominantly handled by informal businesses, characterised by polluting processing techniques and poor working conditions, yet serving as a source of livelihood to about 30,000 households who are directly and indirectly involved in the e-waste value chain.
Mr. Kumi, said it would be the advantage of the country to regulate and provide the needed facilities for the sustainable management of the increasing volumes of electronic waste.
“For instance, the guidelines says that a collector has certain responsibilities, including the responsibility to bring the electronic (waste) to a collection center, then the collection center also has a responsibility to channel it to a formal recycler.”
Because of this, he said “if we can strengthen scrap dealers’ associations then they would be in a position to monitor their members. The members can collect the scraps, hand it over to a formal collection center or recycler who can make use of the scraps without causing any pollution.”
Mr. Kumi made these pronouncements in an interview at the sidelines of the ‘Access to Finance and Progress Workshop,’ in Kumasi, for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the e-waste sector, as part of the E-MAGIN Project.
E-MAGIN, is a four-year project that aims to improve the management of e-waste in Ghana towards sustainable consumption production.
The project, which is funded by the European Union, was launched in 2018 and is being implemented by the University of Cape Coast, Adelphi (Germany), Ghana National Cleaner Production Center (GNCPC) and City Waste Recycling Limited.
Specifically, E-MAGIN is to contribute to the effective implementation of the Hazardous and Electronic Waste Control and Management Act 917 through the formalization of informal Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), the establishment of a collection mechanism for e-waste, build the capacity of the MSME’s to adopt the best dismantling practices, providing information support and creating awareness among the 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.
One of the project managers, of E-MAGIN Project, Ghana, Mr. Daniel Ofori, at the back of the alarming rate of electronic waste pollution advised electronics, scrap dealers, refrigeration and air condition as well as phone repairers not to burn components of e-waste in the open air, but rather adopt environmentally friendly practices.
Mr. Ofori, who spoke on behalf of the Project Coordinator, Prof. Rosemond Boohene, said the operations of MSMEs in the management of electronic waste needs to be formalized to safeguard the environment and health of the people.
He said e-waste contributes economically to the growth of the country, and should be approached as such. He, therefore, encouraged individuals and various groups to effectively implement the Hazardous and Electronic Waste Control Management Act.
The Ag. Deputy Director, GNCPC, Mrs. Letitia Abra-Kom Nyaaba, said “e-waste management has a value-chain, “from beginning to the end where you treat and dispose of.”
The project has, therefore, helped to build the capacity while creating awareness in order that scrap dealers would shun practices that are harmful to human health and the environment, she added.
However, she noted that the absence of treatment facilities or off-takers for some of the fractions that the scrap dealers collect is a challenge, because the volumes keep building up.