Making electronic waste recycling safer through alternative technology

9 November 2015

Pure Earth (ex-Blacksmith Institute) submitted in September 2015 its report on the first year of its electronic waste recycling project at the Agbogbloshie scrap metal site in the Ghanaian capital Accra.

The project aims to set up a model electronic waste recycling facility to protect the livelihoods and health of copper wire recyclers, market workers and local communities. The basic waste recycling facility established during the pilot phase was developed to enable 200 wire recyclers at the site to change from burning to stripping wires, in order to eliminate the exposure to toxic substances and improve overall ambient air quality.

The report demonstrated that, since the opening of the centre in October 2014, approximately 2,177 to 2,268 kg of PVC plastic have been stripped manually and/or using the fine cable shredder that was installed in August 2015. The plastic was collected and packaged for resale and recycling. By cleanly stripping these materials the facility prevented:
• 3.2 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions,
• 1.3 metric tons of hydrochloric acid emissions (a very toxic pulmonary irritant),
• 6.8 kg of lead emissions.


An environmental and health assessment of 40 recyclers and community members was conducted in August 2015, and although the majority of respondents still complained of respiratory and ocular problems, 64 % reported that environmental conditions at Agbogbloshie had somewhat or significantly improved over the past year.