$85,000 e-waste recycling facility goes waste

The Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Mr Akwasi Opong-Fosu (middle), inspecting the scrap-shredding machine.

A new e-waste recycling facility intended to transform the recycling of scrap metals at Agblogbloshie in Accra is gradually becoming a white elephant.

The facility, provided by the Black Smith Institute, an international non-profit organisation, in collaboration with the government, at a cost of $85,000, is also to help  transform the way recyclers work in one of the most polluted places in the country.

It is equipped with four automated machines that can strip or pull apart plastic coated cables and wires of various sizes scavenged from the e-waste dump to extract copper and other valuable materials within without burning.

Stripping e-waste can, therefore, save lives by reducing the vast amount of toxic fumes that are released by burning, thereby poisoning thousands of people and contaminating land, water and food.

Not used

However, two months after it had been established, the facility is lying idle, while scrap dealers in the community expose themselves to toxic substances.

During a field visit yesterday by the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Mr Akwasi Opong-Fosu, and other stakeholders, it was observed that the facility had not been used and still looked new, as though it was meant as a tourist attraction.

There was no sign of shedding activity on any of the four machines at the facility. The wooden boards supporting the machines were still new.

The scrap dealers were located deep into the slum community, busily burning their e-waste on a refuse dump site to obtain their metals, a situation that pollutes the environment and exposes residents to health hazards.

In an interview with the Daily Graphic, a scrap dealer who gave his name as Suleiman denied that the shredding facility had been abandoned.

He said in a day, about 30 scrap dealers visited the facility and had their metals scrapped, adding, “When I finish shredding for you, I weigh the metals and whatever the amount is, I share with the owner for him to be able to pay electricity bills.”

When asked to show how the machine operated, Suleiman, who looked rather tense, tossed this reporter around and when he finally settled, he was unable to tell where the switch of the machine was located.

Situation unpardonable

Mr Opong-Fosu, not happy about the situation, said the ministry was going to have an emergency meeting with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to bring the issue of scrap metals to an end.

“This facility has been established but the continued burning of cables to extract copper is still ongoing and now the facility is under-utilised,” he lamented.

He gave an assurance that the ministry would do all it could to ensure that those violating the laws on pollution and land degradation were brought to book.

source : Graphic Online