Global e-waste dumping: Shipping Unwanted Electronics to the Developing World

Not all electronics recycling companies in the US and Europe follow stringent environmental practices like GreenCitizen. There are electronics recycling companies that engage in global dumping and instead of recycling electronics responsibly, ship e-waste to foreign dumps in the developing world. It is illegal for companies in the EU to export e-waste but not in the US. Many countries receive this e-waste but there are some places that have become infamous for it and developed large informal recycling operations.

Guiyu, China

Famously exposed to Western audiences back in 2002 by the Basel Action Network (BAN), Guiyu is a town in the Chaoyang district of Guangdong province. The town is the world’s largest e-waste dump. The informal recycling practices in the town have heavily polluted the soil, water and bodies of the residents. Children have notoriously high levels of lead in their bloodstreams, tens of times the WHO safe limit.

The Guiyu e-waste dump

Lagos, Nigeria

Several hundred thousand tons of e-waste flow into Nigeria’s largest port city of Lagos every year. Subsequent to the exposition of Guiyu to Western audiences, in 2005, BAN shed light on electronics recycling companies shipping e-waste to Nigeria under the guise of reuse. Most of the items coming into port were unusable and ended up dumped around Lagos neighborhoods.

Agogbloshie, Ghana

Also situated in West Africa and located on the outskirts of the Ghanaian Capital, Accra, e-waste dumping at this site was the subject of new articles by major news outlets in the last year. Arguably overtaking Guiyu as the world’s biggest e-waste dumpsite, Agogbloshie’s local environment has been trashed, putting tens of thousands of peoples health at risk.

Responsible electronics recycling

Companies like GreenCitizen refuse to engage in the shipment of e-waste overseas until such a time as electronics recycling operations in those countries meet western environmental standards. GreenCitizen is attempting to shift the paradigm and build a model, sustainable, local electronics recycling ecosystem. Please do your part to make sure your  e-waste is recycled locally and responsibly.

Drop off your electronic waste at our Eco Center in Burlingame, or have them picked up by us if you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area.

You can also mail in your e-waste to us. Check out our mail-in recycling page to know how.

You can also look for other responsible recyclers within your area by using our Green Directory.

James Kao is the founder/CEO of GreenCitizen, which provides products and services that help make every day Earth Day. He's passionate about data and sustainability, with a deep background in launching, funding, and managing successful tech companies. James enjoys spending quality time with his family, hiking, traveling, watching well-made documentaries, and eating good healthy food. read more »

7 Comments on “Global e-waste dumping: Shipping Unwanted Electronics to the Developing World

  1. Pingback: How to Recycle VHS Tapes and Cassette Tapes: A Complete Guide | GreenCitizen

  2. The water recycling process utilizes very basic physical, biological and chemical principles to remove contaminants from water. Anyway thanks for this

    Dear Jason Dunford,

    Agbogbloshie: This is a complete hoax. 30-50 units per day, pushed by hand cart. And the same fictitious sources are behind the other sites. Find a scientific source and I’ll send you $100. Closest is Blacksmith, which cited a study which cited BAN.org






    I don’t have time to explain Guiyu, but the CRT monitors never went there (it is a chip reuse center). Lagos and Ghana, find the SBC (Secretariat Basel Convention, as in CONVENTION not “Action Group) studies which found 91% reuse.

    Thanks for this great idea! The content was really very interesting.I am really thankful to you for providing this unique information about e waste recycling. Please keep sharing more and more information.

    it looks terrible and disqusting how people treating the environment… I can not understand why they dont care about their life and the others life.

    Greetings, Adam

    Thanks for the information! I agree, it seems like there could be so many uses for used electronics. I’m surprised just how rampant E-waste is in today’s society. It’s great that there are programs set up to recycle old electronics to cut E-waste.

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