Julie Nygaard Solvang
My PhD project explores how irregular trading in and dumping of electronic waste is negotiated and facilitated in Ghana. Discarded electronic devices and electronic waste (e-waste) become exported goods, finding their way, often irregularly, out of Europe and into Ghana. Here, the products enter into an informal refurbishing and e-waste management sector, where workers collect, dismantle, and ‘mine’ discarded electronics to obtain valuable secondary raw materials that again feed into the industry for further use. Although the informal sector facilitates a – in terms of green energy transition - much needed reuse of valuable minerals, the practices used in the informal sector expose toxic substances, and pose health threats to the workers as well as pollute the air, soil and water of the surrounding environment. Tracing the illegal movement of e-waste and social organisation of the trade, the project explores how this toxic waste and environmental harm in Ghana is linked to broader supply chains and grayzones of global trade flows.
The PhD is part of the ILLECO project, which investigates how Ghanaian minerals are irregularly mined, smuggled, and dumped and how green transition initiatives are challenged by these exploitative practices.
The ILLECO project is funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark.