What NOT to do

Well one option would of course be to throw away your old broken radio or mobile phone together with your general household or garden refuse. The items would then eventually end up in a landfill somewhere near your city and the contained metals would be lost forever. Instead of being used in the manufacture of new equipment, they would slowly start reacting with rainwater and acids in the soil, and will eventually leak poisonous metals and compounds into the groundwater.

There are already collection systems working in Ghana. It is a common sight in Accra to see young men or boys pushing carts with metal parts and other scrap towards a recycling facility. Most of these carts end up at the scrap yard at Agbogbloshie. Unfortunately, the recycling activities here are not sustainable. Wires and cables are burnt in open fires on a daily basis, in order to free most of the contained copper. Plastic coverings of TV sets and other pieces of equipment are also burnt (often at night) and the CRT tubes of old TV sets are dumped in the nearby river or lagoon. These processes release extremely poisonous and carcinogenic (cancer-inducing) smoke into the air, and allows other poisons to leak into the river and the soil.

Burning cables for the copper at Agbobloshie, Accra, Ghana

These conditions are not only extremely unhealthy if not dangerous for the people working there, but they also result in the poisoning of the soil and water for future generations. The smoke travels far and does not only pollute Ghana, but the whole earth's atmosphere.