How your TV could end up in Nigeria to be illegally dumped

Posted by jamie — 18 February 2009 at 11:18am - Comments

Television are shipped from the EU to Nigeria to be sold, scrapped or illegally dumped

Television are shipped from the EU to Nigeria to be sold, scrapped or illegally dumped © Greenpeace/Buus

As you may have seen on Sky News or the cover of the Independent this morning, our researchers have been conducting a three-year investigation in what really happens to electronic waste. The results show that, instead of being recycled responsibly like it's supposed to be, e-waste is being disguised as second-hand goods and being shipped of to (in this case) Nigeria. There, it's sold, scrapped or illegally dumped.

Acting on a tip-off, we launched our operation in collaboration with Sky Television to see just where some electronic waste was ending up. We took an unfixable TV, fitted it with a tracking device and brought it to Hampshire County Council for recycling. Instead of being safely dismantled in the UK or Europe, like it should have been, the council’s 'recycling' company, BJ Electronics, passed it on as 'second-hand goods' and it was shipped off to Nigeria to be sold or scrapped and dumped.

For the first time we were able to track the e-waste from door to door, exposing the loopholes in recycling programmes that allow illicit profits to be made by the developed world's traders by dumping their obsolete and hazardous electronics abroad instead of properly recycling them.

Sorting through electronic waste in Lagos, NigeriaView the Following The E-Waste narrated
slideshow
Launch the slideshow

Take action!
Email Philips and ask them to recycle their products

Thousands of old electronic goods and components leave the EU for Africa and other destinations in the developing world every day, despite regulations prohibiting the trade in e-waste. Some will be repaired and reused, but many are beyond repair, meaning that they will eventually be dumped in places where no facilities exist for safe recycling.

Nigeria, like Ghana, Pakistan, India and China, is just one of many destinations that Europe, the United States, Japan, South Korea and other developed countries are using as toxic e-waste dumping grounds. For years, we’ve been exposing the mountains of e-waste that show up on the doorstep of developing countries at the expense of people and the environment.

The poorest people, in many cases children, are put to work breaking apart TVs, mobile phones, game consoles and other electronic items that arrive in their tonnes. With no safety measures, they are exposed to highly toxic chemicals, including mercury, which damages the brain; lead, which can damage reproductive systems; and cadmium, which causes kidney damage.

So what's the answer? First of all, companies can make sure their goods are free from hazardous components. We also need them to take full responsibility for the safe recycling of their products and put an end to the growing toxic e-waste dumps across the developing world. And we need companies to introduce voluntary take-back schemes and remove hazardous substances from their products so they can be recycled safely and easily.

Hello, Cyd here,
This is terrible about our electronic waste being ILLEGALLY DUMPED in Nigeria! I may only be 9 years old but this is an outrage! We recycle things to stop them being wasted - not to get them dumped in African countries! It's not very enviromentally kind!
This is not kind to the poor people either, breaking apart TVs! With mobile phones, televisions and computers, you could see if a friend or family member wanted them.
We don't want toxic chemicals ruining the enviroment just because the people who are MEANT to be recycling our e-waste send them off to Africa, where they get dumped and sold!
I hope we can think more wisely about what we do with our e-waste now,
Cyd

I know there have been numerous incidents to electronic waste dumping across less developed countries. Numerous videos abound in respect to this matter on youtube. By the way, I rather find it ludicrous on the path of GreenPeace, that there is not a single GreenPeace contact to the continent of Africa.

Not to digress from the issue, I rather find it mind boggling that, with the efforts supposedly put in place by the Environment Agency in UK to tackle this problem such as the: Individual Producer Responsibility (IPR), the menace of e-waste continues to be an issue.

Producer compliance schemes have not been effective to address this problem. It is high time the WEEE Directive be reviewed. Article 8 under the WEEE Directive needs to be looked into. Electronic manufacturers, recycling companies need to be held accountable for their actions. Consumers have a right to know what happens to their obsolete electronic products.

The other question pertinent to ask is, with the present economic recession, is it sustainable to be recycling electronic waste in Europe? Does it have any economic input to the market growth in Europe? Would it be most appropriate for recycling to occur in less developed countries if proper cleaner production technology measures are ensured?

Actions and in-actions needs to be evaluated and weighed to adequately know which sustainable process can be effectively adapted.

A very good initiative.

It would be interesting to see how many councils in the UK would pass this test with flying colours and also how the councils of the EU capital cities would fair.

@Envirotalk - you must have missed the launch last year of our new offices in Africa - one in South Africa, one in Senegal and one in the Democratic Republic of Congo. More from on the Greenpeace Africa website, and Raoul from the DRC office has written for our website.

web editor
gpuk

I'm not sure what the plans for the African offices are but I think some time will be spent building up the offices already there before expanding further. It's a huge undertaking opening an office in one country, never mind three, and resources are limited - there are only two people working in the Kinshasa office!

And the governments of countries like Nigeria will have some part to play in the flow of waste from North to South, but I think the burden lies with us. We're producing the waste and if we still had a manufacturing base in the UK, we'd have the infrastructure to recycle and reuse the waste materials in this country, and wouldn't need to dump them on other countries. Or just buy less TVs - that would work.

web editor
gpuk

Hello Jamie,

Thanks for the response to the observation I stated within my first paragraph of response here. I remember late last year, I searched the Greenpeace website for a contact listing to Africa all to no avail.

I truly appreciate your response. I would also like to know, whether there are plans to expand Greenpeace yet still in Africa? I speak as a Nigerian, and I desire a true and honest change in my country when it comes to Environmental Issues.

In your own view, do you not think, the government of these host countries to electronic waste, should be held accountable, and not only the developed countries sending their electronic waste to less developed countries?

this is bad, lets make a better world for the younger ones.

The daily use of electronic equipments are known as consumer electronics and includes TV, telephone, DVD, CD, PC, laptop etc. These equipments are manufactured throughout the world. With the advancement in electronic engineering at a continuous pace, a number of new variety electronics items flood into the market every year and the cost the existing products reduces continuously and it is one of the biggest advantage of consumer electronics industry.
Office Signs : Office signs using LCD digital signage.

Hello, Cyd here, This is terrible about our electronic waste being ILLEGALLY DUMPED in Nigeria! I may only be 9 years old but this is an outrage! We recycle things to stop them being wasted - not to get them dumped in African countries! It's not very enviromentally kind! This is not kind to the poor people either, breaking apart TVs! With mobile phones, televisions and computers, you could see if a friend or family member wanted them. We don't want toxic chemicals ruining the enviroment just because the people who are MEANT to be recycling our e-waste send them off to Africa, where they get dumped and sold! I hope we can think more wisely about what we do with our e-waste now, Cyd

I know there have been numerous incidents to electronic waste dumping across less developed countries. Numerous videos abound in respect to this matter on youtube. By the way, I rather find it ludicrous on the path of GreenPeace, that there is not a single GreenPeace contact to the continent of Africa. Not to digress from the issue, I rather find it mind boggling that, with the efforts supposedly put in place by the Environment Agency in UK to tackle this problem such as the: Individual Producer Responsibility (IPR), the menace of e-waste continues to be an issue. Producer compliance schemes have not been effective to address this problem. It is high time the WEEE Directive be reviewed. Article 8 under the WEEE Directive needs to be looked into. Electronic manufacturers, recycling companies need to be held accountable for their actions. Consumers have a right to know what happens to their obsolete electronic products. The other question pertinent to ask is, with the present economic recession, is it sustainable to be recycling electronic waste in Europe? Does it have any economic input to the market growth in Europe? Would it be most appropriate for recycling to occur in less developed countries if proper cleaner production technology measures are ensured? Actions and in-actions needs to be evaluated and weighed to adequately know which sustainable process can be effectively adapted.

A very good initiative. It would be interesting to see how many councils in the UK would pass this test with flying colours and also how the councils of the EU capital cities would fair.

@Envirotalk - you must have missed the launch last year of our new offices in Africa - one in South Africa, one in Senegal and one in the Democratic Republic of Congo. More from on the Greenpeace Africa website, and Raoul from the DRC office has written for our website. web editor gpuk

I'm not sure what the plans for the African offices are but I think some time will be spent building up the offices already there before expanding further. It's a huge undertaking opening an office in one country, never mind three, and resources are limited - there are only two people working in the Kinshasa office! And the governments of countries like Nigeria will have some part to play in the flow of waste from North to South, but I think the burden lies with us. We're producing the waste and if we still had a manufacturing base in the UK, we'd have the infrastructure to recycle and reuse the waste materials in this country, and wouldn't need to dump them on other countries. Or just buy less TVs - that would work. web editor gpuk

Hello Jamie, Thanks for the response to the observation I stated within my first paragraph of response here. I remember late last year, I searched the Greenpeace website for a contact listing to Africa all to no avail. I truly appreciate your response. I would also like to know, whether there are plans to expand Greenpeace yet still in Africa? I speak as a Nigerian, and I desire a true and honest change in my country when it comes to Environmental Issues. In your own view, do you not think, the government of these host countries to electronic waste, should be held accountable, and not only the developed countries sending their electronic waste to less developed countries?

this is bad, lets make a better world for the younger ones.

satellite dish : We offer satellite sales, installation, and repair services all across the U.S. along with a wealth of information about satellite dishes

The daily use of electronic equipments are known as consumer electronics and includes TV, telephone, DVD, CD, PC, laptop etc. These equipments are manufactured throughout the world. With the advancement in electronic engineering at a continuous pace, a number of new variety electronics items flood into the market every year and the cost the existing products reduces continuously and it is one of the biggest advantage of consumer electronics industry.
Office Signs : Office signs using LCD digital signage.

About Jamie

I'm one of the editors of the website, and I do a lot of work on the Get Active section, as well as doing web stuff for the forests campaign. I've worked for Greenpeace since 2006 and, coming from a background as a freelance writer and web producer, it's been something of an education to be part of a direct action organisation. I'm from Cumbria originally but now I live in north London - I came to study here and somehow have never left.

My personal mumblings can be found @shrinkydinky.

Follow Greenpeace UK