What is E-Waste?
E-waste is a term used to cover almost all types of electrical and electronic equipment nearing or at the end of their "useful life" and has or could enter the waste stream. Although e-waste is a general term, it can be considered to cover TVs, computers, mobile phones, white goods (e.g. fridges, washing machines, dryers etc), home entertainment and stereo systems, toys, toasters, kettles – almost any household or business item with circuitry or electrical components with power or battery supply.

What are the dangers of E-Waste?
E-waste contains many valuable and precious materials, materials which contain many toxic substances. There are four main toxins in e-waste and are found in the components of our cellphones, computers and television sets. These four substances are Cadmium, Mercury, Lead and Beryllium.


One of these toxic substances is cadmium, which is used in rechargeable computer batteries and contacts and switches in older CRT monitors.Cadmium can bio-accumulate in the environment and is extremely toxic to humans, in particular adversely affecting kidneys and bones.
Mercury is another toxic substance found in e-waste which is used in lighting devices in flat screen displays, can cause damage to the nervous system, kidneys and brain, and can even be passed on to infants through breast milk.

Beryllium is used in the manufacture of telecommunications infrastructure equipment, cellular phones and computers as a component of integrated circuits, infrared light-emitting diodes, laser diodes and as a structural support of printed circuit boards. Chronic Berylliosis is a lung disease caused by exposure to Beryllium.

This is one of the most toxic substances found in E-waste. Lead interferes with a variety of body processes and is toxic to many organs and tissues including the Heart, bones, kidneys and reproductive and nervous system. It is mostly found in Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) televisions and monitors.

After watching the above film: Complete this E-Waste Quiz

Movie - Produced by UBC students, nominated for a 2009 Emmy Award

Ghana: Digital Dumping ground

On the outskirts of Ghana’s biggest city sits a smoldering wasteland,
a slum carved into the banks of the Korle Lagoon, one of the most
polluted bodies of water on Earth. The locals call it Sodom and

Correspondent Peter Klein and a group of graduate journalism students
from the University of British Columbia have come here as part of a
global investigation to track a shadowy industry that’s causing big
problems here and around the world.

Their guide is a 13-year-old boy named Alex. He shows them his home,
a small room in a mass of shanty dwellings, and offers to take them
across a dead river to a notorious area called Agbogbloshie.
Agbogbloshie has become one of the world’s digital dumping grounds,
where the West’s electronic waste, or e-waste, piles up—hundreds of
millions of tons of it each year.

Choose your own assignment

Assignment 1

1. Discuss any 3 of these questions on your blog after watching the movie:

• How is the slum outside Ghana’s biggest city described?
• Why did the news correspondent and graduate students go to Ghana?
• What is the “shadowy industry” that is causing global problems?
• What does the introduction reveal about Alex and his life in the slum?
• What happens to the tons of e-waste produced by the West?
• What is the human and environmental impact of e-waste?

2. Using this interactive map - choose one country in red and describe on your blog the role this country plays in the global e-waste issue.

3. Using this source, describe on your blog what the Basel Convention is and why has the United States not ratified this?


Assignment 2

Through web research find out where in the Tri-Cities area you would recycle the following items and identify the locations for each item on your blog.