Event – Trading Waste: The UK Ghana Route and the Illicit E Waste Economy

The Partnership for Conflict, Crime & Security Research, the Centre for Maritime Law & Security, and SafeSeas are hosting a webinar on ‘Trading Waste: The UK Ghana Route and the Illicit E Waste Economy’. The event will be held online at 12.00 GMT, on the 20th October.

Register here: https://bit.ly/cemlaws3

Chaired by Dr. Kamal-Deen Ali, the event features Kanchelli Iddrisu (University of Cambridge), Professor Brenda Chalfin (University of Florida), Dr. Irekpitan Okukpon (Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies), Dr Dagna Rams (Université
de Lausanne), Professor Henrik Vigh (University of Copenhagen), and Lawrence Kotoe (Environmental Protection Agency, Ghana).

The Global South has a problem with other people’s electronic waste. The world produces as much as 50 million tonnes of e-waste per year – over six kilogrammes for every person on the planet. Of this, only around 20 per cent is recycled. The rest is disposed of in landfill or informally recycled, often by hand, in countries in the Global South. Such work exposes workers, sometimes children, to hazardous and carcinogenic substances including mercury, lead and cadmium. E-waste in landfill can pollute soil and groundwater and put food supply systems and water sources at risk. A significant proportion of this waste is exported illegally to avoid costly environmental regulation and health and safety requirements.

In 2021, UKRI’s Partnership for Conflict Crime and Security Research commissioned a project to examine the UK-Ghana trade in e-waste, in partnership with the Centre for Maritime Law and Security Africa (CEMLAWS) and SafeSeas. The project zoomed in on eight different sites along the UK-Ghana e-waste trade route, starting with the manufacture of goods, following their journey through consumption, disposal, export, import and recycling, and ending with the reexport of scrap metal from Ghana. The result was a report published in July 2021.

This panel brings together leading experts on the global waste trade to discuss the report findings and reflect on their wider implications for environmental governance, maritime security and the fight against organised crime. In so doing it addresses questions:

  • How much do we know about the global e-waste trade? Where are the main data gaps?
  • What is the extent of organised criminal involvement in the global e-waste trade?
  • How can (and should) the global trade in e-waste best be tackled? Are new capacities, regulations and countermeasures required?