Agbogbloshie: From Toxic E-Waste Dump to Model Recycling Center

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On October 9, 2014, Agbogbloshie, Accra, Ghana, “a digital dumping ground,” is about to get cleaner with the opening of a new facility for handling e-waste.

This is a pilot project new e-waste recycling facility that really could transform the way recyclers work in Agbogbloshie because right now it is one of the worst polluted places on earth. “Everyone is talking about how this is just the beginning,” said Kira Traore, the program director for Africa at Blacksmith Institute for a Pure Earth. “I think we are seeing a real commitment to changing the e-waste recycling industry,” said Traore.

The new e-waste facility will maintain four automated wire-stripping machines that can strip and pull apart plastic coated cables and wires of various sizes that are scavenged from the e-waste dump to extract copper and other valuable materials within without burning. Stripping e-waste can save lives by reducing the vast amount of hazardous toxic fumes that are released by burning, poisoning thousands, and contaminating the community’s land, water, and food. The new facility is hard to miss. It consists of three low-cost shipping containers that are painted a bright blue. The recycling center stands out against the scorched and burnt landscape.

“Burning e-waste was and still is, to many, the established way of working here. That is why we are grateful to see so much support from the recyclers and residents of Agbogbloshie for this new recycling facility,” said Yaw Amoyaw-Osei, Founder/Executive Director of GreenAd, one of Blacksmith/Pure Earth’s partners on the project. “This is the first step towards stopping the mass poisoning of Agbogbloshie residents.”

So many supporters and stakeholders came together for the grand opening of the recycling facility. In regards to the future of the facility, Amoyaw-Osei said, “We are receiving offers to help us bring in more machines, install sanitation equipment like a washing station and bathroom facility for the workers, provide business training, additional funding, and other means of support that will help ensure the success of this recycling facility.”

putting up the sign