Incentive Based Collection of E-Waste – Results from Pilot Implementations in Ghana

by Andreas Manhart (presenting author)1, Alexander Batteiger2, Bennett Akuffo3, Atiemo Sampson4, Johanna Jacobs1, Richard Afoblikame2, Markus Spitzbart2

1: Oeko-Institut, Germany; 2: GIZ; 3: Green Advocay Ghana; 4: Mountain Research Institute


In many low- and middle-income countries, informal sector players dominate e-waste collection and recycling. Main reasons are individuals’ needs to earn a basic living paired with economic ad-vantages like the externalization of costs: Informal recyclers typically focus on valuable materials while other e-waste types and fractions are either not collected or discarded uncontrolled. Top-down regulatory approaches such as inspections and sanctions are prone to failure because of the number of involved individuals and their spatial flexibility. Other attempts to improve informal sector recycling such as sensitization and training failed in the past – at least when implemented as stand-alone measures.

Improvement strategies for e-waste management in countries like Ghana require the buy-in of the informal sector. An incentive-based approach motivating informal collectors and recyclers to refrain from polluting practices was developed and tested in two set-ups.

In set-up 1, an informal sector association in Kumasi was given a fixed-price for each collected and delivered waste refrigerator. In set-up 2, small scale collectors delivered waste cables directly to a dedicated handover center in Agbogbloshie, Accra. Piloting took place between January 2018 and August 2019. In total, >200 fridges and >10t of waste cables were collected and channeled to sound recycling, substantially reducing unsound dismantling and open cable burning. In both cases, monetary compensation was above the local market value of embedded materials to attract collection.

This contribution presents main findings and describes lessons-learned regarding acceptance from informal sector players, organizational issues and the potential embedding in future e-waste management strategies.

Both pilots were activities of GIZ programmes. Set-up one was supported by the State Chancellery of North Rhine-Westphalia. Set-up 2 was an activity of the GIZ E-Waste Programme that supports the Ghanaian Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI) to improve the conditions for sustainable management and disposal of e-waste.