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Yr 7 Inquiry Project 2022

2. The World's Biggest E-Waste Dump

What are the dangers of consumer electronic waste that we must consider globally?

Can you imagine stumbling upon a scene directly out of a post-apocalyptic nightmare world, right here on Earth today? If you were to visit the Agbogbloshie wetland on the outskirts of Accra in Ghana, that’s similar to what you’d see.

According to the Motherboard article Inside the World’s Biggest E-Waste Dump, Agbogbloshie is an illegal “e-waste” dumping ground where outdated technology from the West is dumped and left to poison the land, the air, and the people. Those who work in this area salvage parts for what amounts to only dollars a day. In many cases, students who should be in school are working in Agbogbloshie.  

Environmental concerns include fluorocarbon emissions, as well as lead, mercury, and hydrogen cyanide poisoning seeping into the soil in and around the dumping ground. Many of the workers admit to using marijuana as a deterrent to the headaches and chest pains they experience due to the toxicity of the environment.

According to the report Agbogbloshie 2019 by ACT Mask, a respirator manufacturer that launched an air pollution awareness campaign in Accra's low-income areas months before releasing the report, the situation has not markedly improved even after over 20 years. 

Discussion Questions

  1. Where do you think this problem began? How far back can we trace the origin point?
  2. Having an idea where it started, what do you think could have been done to avoid it?
  3. Why do you think it is we allow things like this to continue happening in our world?
  4. Imagine having a dumping ground like this in your own city. How would your life and the lives of the community be affected?
  5. Where else in the world is this happening and what is being done to stop it?
  6. Who has made an effort to solve this problem so far, and what have they done?
  7. What could Agbogbloshie do differently to help the environment and the people working there?
  8. What affirmative action would you take to help solve this problem?

References on this page:

EPA Victoria. (2020). Information about e-waste.

Shibata, M. (2015). Inside the world's biggest e-waste dump. VICE.

NCRonline. (2016, June 11). What e-waste market is all about. [Video]. YouTube.

Chasant, M. (2019). Agbogbloshie scrapyard: Emerging issues. ATCMASK.

Agbogbloshie: the world's largest e-waste dump - in pictures. (2014, February 28). The Guardian.

Sandy. (2015, June 25). Transforming Agbogbloshie: from toxic dump into model recycling center. Pure Earth.

Anatomy of a myth: the world's biggest e-waste dump isn't. (2015). Scrapping Politics.

Killyourtvtube. (2011, December 25). Ghana: Digital dumping ground. [Video]. YouTube.