Toxin-laden e-waste dumped in West Africa
European Union laws prohibiting the export of hazardous materials aren’t keeping shipments of electronic waste out of West Africa, according to a new Greenpeace report. Traders obtain e-waste in the E.U. and ship it off “under the false label of ‘second-hand goods,'” says the report, adding, “Sending old electronic equipment to developing countries is often hailed as ‘bridging the digital divide.’ But all too often this simply means dumping useless equipment on the poor.” Soil samples taken near two e-waste scrapyards in Ghana showed dangerous levels of phthalates, chlorinated dioxins, lead, and other toxic metals; the report notes that much of the disassembling is done by children. Companies must “take responsibility for the entire lifecycle of their products,” says Martin Hojsik of Greenpeace, and “not allow their products to end up poisoning the poor around the world.” Greenpeace has previously reported on sketchy e-waste situations in southeast Asia and China and India.