Today is the last day of another short visit to Ghana. A busy week, featured quite a few meetings, and visits to the Agbogbloshie waste recycling area, to the site of a new professional recycling operation, just North of Pokuase.
We still await any real news about the progress (or otherwise) of a new draft Bill to regulate recycling of e-scrap. However, there remains tremendous potential for profit in this business. Moreover, the current legislation does not prohibit the intended recycling, and the main problem is the fact that the legislation is not enforced, allowing the dodgy side of the industry to operate irresponsibly, providing access to copper from burned cables, and lately also to a supply of motherboards, which are pretty valuable. Clearly there should be some regulation that ensures the responsible recycling and/or removal of the negative-value fractions as well (CRT screens, flame-retardant plastics, batteries, etc.) and this can only be paid for by combination with the processing of valuable fractions, and through Extended Producer Responsibility of equipment producers. The lack of law enforcement does not help, but any new law is not going to ensure enforcement.
In our project we keep working towards the entry of a formal recycling company, able to deal with both and negative-value fractions, and able to do profitable business. At the same time, they would be able to train people who are currently in the recycling business, and to give them employment. Others will likely have to shift their activities towards collection and sorting, leaving recycling to the more formal sector.
None of this will happen in the short term, but Rome wasn’t built in a day and according to a Chinese proverb any journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step. At times I feel that we are collectively still walking on the spot, but I do hope that we can encourage some company to take a first forward step…