The Disposable People Who Process Our Toxic E-Waste

ToxiCity: A Graveyard for Electronics and People

RT (2017)

Film Review

Toxic e-waste is equally poisonous to the planet and the third world poor who are forced to process it for a living. The only truly humane and sustainable solution to toxic e-waste is to force big tech giants like Apple, Google and Dell (and the billionaires who run them) to assume responsibility for end-of-life disposal, instead of externalizing this cost to the rest of us.

This documentary is about Agbogbloshie in Acra Ghana, the largest toxic waste dump in the world, and the men, women and children who pick through electronic waste from Asia, the US, Australia and western Europe. Although it’s illegal to employ child labor or import e-waste in Ghana, these laws are never enforced.

The filmmakers interview various “waste managers” who run the site, as well as a 10 year old boy, a fifteen year old girl and the “waste site coordinator.”  The latter  adjudicates disputes and deals with the police when fights break out. The 10 year old (an orphan) earns about $8-10 a days from the scrap metal he collects. This is enough to buy two meals. The 15-year-old was forced to leave school because her parents had no money to pay for her school fees, uniform or textbooks. She prepares food to sell to other scavengers and hopes to return to school and become a nurse.

Scavenging e-waste among the burning rubber and plastics at Agbogbloshie is a highly dangerous occupation due to the high risk of cadmium and lead toxicity. Doctors at a nearly clinic also report an increased incidence of respiratory infection among children who live and work there.


5 thoughts on “The Disposable People Who Process Our Toxic E-Waste

  1. Young women in China jump out of factory buildings producing goods to be briefly used before becoming obsolete and discarded by us and disposed of in a distant land by Ghanians. (Hey, they too are human.) What to do? As done here, make public something of which you have become aware. Then, work on solutions through actions taken by ourselves, then others. Our delight in material goods undreamed of by the very wealthiest of a short time ago has its price for some. My belief in Christ tells me that one can not serve both God and Mammon. The golden calf of today could be a product of present technology. What to do? Globalists are for AI, robotics, and depopulation, culling 6,500,000,000, from the herd.


    • Thank you for your very thoughtful comment, marblenecltr. I, too, have a really hard time with obscene wealth and greed. I agree that the first step is making people aware of the immense human and environmental cost of their collective addiction to screen technology. Sadly the Internet has only increased corporate power and rapidly advanced globalization.


  2. It was extremely hard to watch the video. I was in tears and almost stopped watching it. We think of poverty in a different way and I was at one time thinking that poverty is poverty, but the poverty I saw while watching this video is even worse poverty than what I have seen in the U.S. Do we have poverty in the U.S.? Yes, indeed, we do! But for the most part, even the homeless are not living near open burn pits that are spewing toxins in the air to the point that their blood is overloaded with lead. Do we have a lead paint problem in the U.S.? Yes, but at least there are some laws on the books that attempt to hold landlords accountable. Not so for the people who are the focal point of this video.

    I wanted to just reach through the screen and hug this one little boy who had been trying to get back with his father who kept putting him off and when he could stand it no longer, he borrowed a phone from a friend, called his father and his father wouldn’t even answer. I shed more tears.

    Dr. Bramhall, I don’t know whether to thank you or be mad at your for posting this because it was truly gut wrenching for me.


  3. I, too, found the video extremely gut wrenching, Shelby, but it also made me pretty angry – the way the powers that be deliberately hide the immense human and environmental costs of the Internet revolution. I recently read that China has refused to accept further waste from developed countries. I know they are strongly invested in Ghana and other African countries – let’s hope they might inspire a similar ban there. Thanks for your comment. You make important points that urgently need to be made.


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