A lot of Europe’s waste ends up in Africa. I am not a waste expert but was somehow aware
that yes the West deports a lot of its rubbish and secondhand clothes to Africa, but it wasn’t
until my first travel to west africa that i realised just how much waste really was shipped to
How much waste is Europe deporting to Africa ?
Every week, about 15 million individual items of used clothing arrive in Ghana, West Africa,
according to the Or Foundation, a human rights and environmental NGO. Although many
people see this as an opportunity for business, about 40% of these items end up thrown
away in landfills and often get washed into the ocean.
From used clothing to electronic waste to toxic waste.
In August 2006, the Probo Koala, a cargo ship belonging to a british oil trading company and
departing from the Netherlands dumped 500 tons of toxic waste in various sites in the district
of Abidjan Around 16 people got killed and thousands poisoned.
One of the most blatant cases of dumping toxic waste is the case of The Toxic Waste
Incident in Nigeria in 1988.
In 1988, some Nigerians Students studying in Italy remarked that hazardous waste coming
from Europe was being dumped in Koko, a small town in West Nigeria. The barrels of
hazardous waste were being disguised as building material. Several barrels were unsealed
causing leakage and serious health effects to the residents. Toxic capitalism at its worst. Two
Italian firms had arranged for storages of waste disguised as building materials, the
containers were offloaded into a local man’s vacant yard for about 100 dollars per month
By the time authorities found out what was truly happening the harm was already made and
people already impacted.
Most items even though deemed unsuitable for Europe are sent to Africa with the excuse
that they are somehow useful to the people there.
E-waste is one of the world’s fastest-growing domestic waste streams, fueled mainly by the
higher consumption rates of electric and electronic equipment in the West. The fact is that
they are not always made to be repaired and have short life cycles. How many times does
the average person in the West change their phones, tablets, computers, and where does
the trash land if not reused ?
According to a UN report, the world produced over 53 million tons of electronic waste in
2019 alone — up by 21% in just five years.
A lot ends up in Africa.
Which countries ?
Many African countries such as Ghana, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Republic of Benin, among
many others constantly receive huge containers filled with waste, products of our
consommation society deemed no longer worthy by Europeans markets.
Illegal waste dumping is also happening a lot in Africa with Waste-brokers disregarding the
existence of laws prohibiting the transboundary disposal of such materials.
The export of electronic waste (e-waste) is on the rise.
The waste, coming from developed countries to countries in development, supposably sold
as reusable electronics and or reusable clothing, ends up mostly in landfill.
When it comes to E-waste, it can be highly toxic and damaging to people’s health. Africa is
not necessarily responsible for that overproduction and over waste and yet it ends up on the
continent, damaging its people’s health.
Africa is becoming a dumpsite for all kinds of waste coming from Europe because the rest of
the world is rejecting the West’s garbage and getting more and more conscious about waste
rejecting toxic and polluting their lands.
Unfortunately what Africa lacks currently is strong laws that deal with the shipping of waste
from the West into its territories. But also really the willingness to stop accepting waste in
exchange for money.
It seems that African politicians and governments are currently not taking a serious stand on
this issue, but mainly because the West is currently and once again taking advantage of
Africa and being its main cause for corruption.
It is not all about income and how this can be used for the development of one’s countries, it
is also about the long lasting effects of those decisions and the damaging consequences for
Something the West has proven time and time over to not care about.