From Grave to Cradle: E-waste Management in Ghana (E-MAGIN Ghana)

Fueled by the accelerated pace of digitalisation and a growing global middle-income class, electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) has become a mainstay of modern lives and are a clear indication of rising prosperity. Yet, the prevalence of consumer electronics also gives rise to a darker side of modernity: growing amounts of waste from electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE or e-waste) which contain harmful substances and pose a risk to the environment and human health. In the case of Ghana, part of this problem can be attributed to the (often illegal) influx of second-hand products which are either entirely dysfunctional by the time of import or become obsolete after a short period of time. Reaching the end of life, these products are predominantly managed by Ghana’s wide-spread informal sector. Crude processing techniques and a lack of decent working conditions result in considerable environmental pollution and adversely affect the physical well-being of the local population. Yet, it is widely acknowledged that the informal sector plays an important societal role by achieving comparatively high collection rates and providing livelihoods for an estimated 20,000 to 35,000 people in Ghana.

Against this background, the Government of Ghana passed the Hazardous and Electronic Waste Control and Management Act (Act 917) and the Hazardous and Electronic Waste Control and Management Regulations (LI 2250) in 2016. This legal framework requires producers and private importers to register with Ghana’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and pay an Advance Eco Levy for electronic goods imported. Collected funds are used to facilitate implementation, monitoring and enforcement of the legal framework and support the formalization of informal actors. Within this context, previous projects mainly focused on the site of Agbogbloshie in the metropolis of Accra which received considerable public attention as the world’s presumably largest dumping ground for e-waste. However, following the national regulatory framework implies that actions also need to be taken in other regions to achieve an impact on a broader scale and create conducive conditions under which informal workers can be integrated into the formal e-waste value chain without jeopardizing their livelihoods. Hence, this project is implemented across eight target regions lying beyond the metropolis of Accra where a considerable number of informal collectors, dismantlers and recyclers are located, namely Greater Accra, Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Western, Eastern, Central, Northern and Volta Regions.

Funded by the European Union, the objective of E-MAGIN Ghana is to contribute to the effective implementation of the Ghanaian Act 917 and LI 2250 by fostering formalization of informal Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs), establishing a collection mechanism for e-waste, disseminating best practices through capacity building and training of trainers, providing decision support and creating awareness among a wide range of stakeholders. Within a project consortium led by University of Cape Coast, and together with the Ghana National Cleaner Production Centre and City Waste Recycling, adelphi is responsible for conducting a value chain assessment and best practice analysis on the formalization of informal structures. In addition, adelphi will engage in policy dialogue and dissemination activities by arranging national conferences, regional round table events and awareness raising workshops across all eight target regions.