Description: In talking about waste disposal, for too long we have underestimated the concept of “distance” and we have ignored the consequences of sending our waste, specifically e-waste, abroad. We’ve hidden, buried or simply piled it up in landfills out of our sight; though we have never questioned nor checked the disposal systems used.
Although the Basel Convention was concluded in 1992 in order to reduce and prevent the trade of dangerous waste from developed countries to developing ones, the Agbogbloshie scrap yard in Accra has become one of the biggest open-air e-waste dumps in the world. Discarded appliances, phones and computers arrive, mainly from European countries, as second-hand goods, though most of them are very short-lived or already not working. These electronic devices, after the extraction of raw materials, like copper and aluminum, end up being dismantled and burnt in Agbogbloshie. Every day workers deal with e-waste without any health and safety regulation. The toxicity of the waste affects deeply the local communities living and working in the area: it causes breathing problems, headache, lung disease and in the long run even tumors and damage to the nervous and reproductive systems. The lead levels in the workers’ blood are way above the threshold value; these activities of combustion contribute to spread toxic emissions from e-waste. Unfortunately, not only the air, but also the nearby soil and the Odaw river waters are polluted. Therefore, the whole food chain is contaminated: the cattle, which is let out to graze all over the area, absorbs dioxin and heavy metals. Since foodstuffs are sold in national and international markets, the whole ecosystem, the health, the safety, the food and the fishing industry are affected by this problem.
Location: Ex Distilleria “Lo Stellino” | Outdoor Pavilion
Via Fiorentina, 95 – Siena
Photographer Biography: Carolina Rapezzi is an Italian freelance photographer, based in London, who deals with social, humanitarian and environmental issues in Europe and West Africa.
The photographer documented the crisis of refugees and the child placement system in Sicily in 2015; the eviction from the refugee encampment Calais Jungle, in France, in 2016; the protests on Brexit referendum, in London; the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution in Moscow and Saint Petersburg in 2017. In the same year she began a still on-going long-term project about gender and identity in London; moreover, she has been focusing on environmental issues concerning electronic waste pollution since 2018. She is currently working on a project, started in 2019, about violence by bladed weapons and new poverty in London, focusing particularly on post Covid social consequences.