Segments in this Video

Introduction: E-Life (02:24)


The United States and United Kingdom export trash to Africa, where it is cheaper to process. A resident discusses the impacts of e-waste on his people, and developed nation's responsibility to change their practices. Agbogbloshie is rated the most toxic place on Earth due to the manual recycling processes performed many of its inhabitants. The rate of technology production and disposal increases annually.

Scrap Living (02:48)

Seventy percent of electronics imported by Ghana are secondhand; 20% is junk, and sent to Agbogbloshie, where the impoverished scrap them for precious metals. Scrapyard workers describe their work and the types of wastes they process.

Disposable Technologies (02:52)

Information technology is increasing globally; in 2014, 42 million tons of e-waste was produced. Improper recycling by acid leeching and burning creates harmful toxins; a scrapyard worker describes his resulting health issues.

Environmental Research (03:53)

A researcher at the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission describes his motivations for going into e-waste research; as a teacher, he received junk computers as school donations. A toxicologist tours a scrapyard, noting manual disassembly and unsafe conditions; recycler injury rates are high.

E-Recycling (03:15)

Technology components are getting smaller; a scientist disassembles an older cell phone to show the involved process of obtaining its gold. He explains the limitations and costs of proper e-recycling.

Identifying Toxins (03:47)

Scrapyard workers burn wires to obtain copper while researchers obtain soil samples; they prepare and test them for toxic heavy metals. The resident scientist describes precautions taken after visiting Agbogbloshie to avoid cross contamination at his home.

E-Waste Policy (06:50)

The Basel Convention is an environmental treaty authored by developing countries to control hazardous waste from rich nations; the United States generates the most garbage per capita in the world, but will not ratify the legislation. A researcher disables a monitor and installs it with a tracking device; 200 trackers have been deployed to identify illegal dumping practices. Jim Puckett explains the system following e-waste as it reaches rural China; the problem is not exclusive to Ghana.

Biological Effects (04:42)

All five elements tested for in Agbogbloshie soil were present, and harmful to health; an epidemiologist explains his studies and confirms the effects of exposure to the chemicals. Residents explain the economic motivators for working under toxic conditions.

Subverting International Law (05:47)

Agbogbloshie receives most e-waste from the United Kingdom, which has not ratified the Basel Convention and illegally exports 100,000 tons annually. A Ghana electronics dealer explains the process of finding sellable materials from malfunctioning imports. E-life tracks four broken monitors, disposing them at recycling centers in London; one makes it to Lapaz district, a market for used European goods; Ghanaians are poor and buy mostly secondhand materials.

Accepting Responsibility (04:45)

The lack of recycling infrastructure prevents e-waste from being properly processed in developing countries. A resident researcher discusses the duty of manufacturers and waste producers to correctly dispose of hazardous materials and cease poisoning Africans. A Dell representative explains the problem of consumption in the United States, and the company's plans for recycling.

Real Solutions (07:14)

Recycling is complex, expensive and creates waste; consumers rarely include product disposal in their purchasing decisions. A circular economy is restorative; IFIXIT and Fairphone representatives explain their company's roles in reducing e-waste through education and changes in product manufacturing.

Global Consumption (02:20)

Consumption and waste is globally increasing; Agbogbloshie needs a solution to its toxic e-waste problem, and for manufacturers to take responsibility for their own pollution and designs. A resident researcher discusses Ghana and the global system of conservation, and humanity's future.

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Technology has truly revolutionized the ways in which we interact with the world, but what happened to your old phone when you upgraded? Where did your broken computer or television end up? Electronic waste is one of the fastest growing environmental threats of the 21st century. This documentary follows the path of discarded electronics. It reveals the illegal trade in discarded technology, tracking it to toxic scrapyards around the world, and exposing the detrimental effects it has on the environment and the people who dismantle our waste in unsafe conditions. Through interviews with those on the frontlines, the film also discovers some remarkable people and companies trying to change the way we think about electronics, and how we consume technology.

Length: 53 minutes

Item#: BVL165469

ISBN: 978-1-64481-276-1

Copyright date: ©2017

Closed Captioned

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