“Environmental Injustice”

Some people consider that “the e-waste problem” is about international e-waste trade. Relevant people in the field, like Jim Puckett consider that e-waste trade is causing people in the Global South suffer from the toxic materials released when recycling, and that they do it disproportionately so.

The narrative about Agbogbloshie in the media has usually focused on the young workers that burn cables to extract copper. The last example of this is Cosima Dannoritzer’s “The electronic tragedy” (2014). The scrap yard is commonly referred to as an “e-waste dump”.

However, our research shows that old computers are not dumped in Agbogbloshie. On the contrary, they are bought, dismantled, and its parts sold again. Some materials are dumped (like CRT glass) or disposed of in a hazardous way (like some plastics, burned). But everything else (mainly metals and circuit boards) are just extracted and resold in the global economy.

RECYHUB agrees with a new narrative of Agbogbloshie, that of an industrial place, and we acknowledge the major role that economics play in the site. There is an environmental injustice in the place, but the problem is not e-waste trade, it’s rather the lack of appropriate tools for the scrap dealers to take advantage of the resources they get in a safe way.