Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 1: keine Armut. Menschen halten sich an den Händen.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 10: Weniger Ungleichheiten. Ein = Zeichen mit Pfeilen nach oben, unten, links und rechts.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 11: Nachhaltige Städte und Gemeinden. Mehrere Gebäude.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 12: Nachhaltiger Konsum und Produktion. Ein Unendlichkeitssymbol.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 13: Maßnahmen zum Klimaschutz. Ein Auge, dessen Pupille eine Weltkugel ist.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 14: Leben unter Wasser. Ein Fisch schwimmt unter Wellen.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 15: Leben an Land. Ein Baum und Vögel.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 16: Frieden, Gerechtigkeit und starke Institutionen. Eine Taube und ein Richterhammer.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 17: Partnerschaften zur Erreichung der Ziele. Sich überlappende Kreise.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 2: Kein Hunger. Aus einer Schüssel steigt Dampf auf.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 3: Gesundheit und Wohlergehen. Linie eines EKGs, die in einem Herz endet.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 4: Hochwertige Bildung. Ein aufgeschlagenes Buch und ein Stift.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 5: Geschlechtergleichheit. Eine Kombination aus den Symbolen für Männlichkeit und Weiblichkeit, mit einem = Zeichen in der Mitte.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 6: Sauberes Wasser und Sanitäreinrichtungen. Ein mit Wasser gefülltes Glas.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 7: Bezahlbare und saubere Energie. Eine Sonne mit einem An-/Aus-Zeichen in der Mitte.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 8: Menschenwürdige Arbeit und Wirtschaftswachstum. Ein Balkendiagramm mit Pfeil nach oben.Grafik: Ziel für nachhaltige Entwicklung 9: Industrie, Innovation und Infrastruktur. Mehrere verschachtelte Würfel. Artboard 1

Avoiding harm and harnessing opportunities: e-waste in Ghana

To ensure that projects do no harm to the environment and leave no one in society behind, GIZ assesses its projects meticulously before they even begin. This can lead to the identification of new priority areas for projects. As has been the case in Ghana, where GIZ is working to improve the recycling of e-waste.

Photo: Ein junger Mann trägt eine Plastikwanne mit Plastikschrott auf dem Kopf.
Employees at Mago Motors collect and sort thermoplastic ready for recycling.
© Mettle’s Magazine / Mago Motors
GIZ’s Safeguards+Gender Management System

All GIZ projects with a commission volume of at least EUR 1 million undergo the Safeguards+Gender assessment. This is a standardised, two-step process. The first step is a screening in which a checklist is used to assess the possible negative impact and potential of the project in five priority areas. In the next step, the risks identified are examined in more detail in an environmental and climate assessment, an integrated peace and conflict assessment or a gender analysis. To ensure that unintended impacts are not overlooked, project partners and potentially affected individuals in the partner country also take part in the detailed analysis. The projects themselves are responsible for the assessment of risks and potential, but they receive support from GIZ’s safeguards specialists in Germany.

Manager Kofi Addo makes his way through the hall of Mago Motors, a recycling firm in the Ghanaian capital Accra. A new batch of thermoplastic has just arrived; it was collected from a scrap yard by a company employee. All around the hall, Kofi’s employees are busy sorting, washing and shredding thermoplastic.

Old printers, computers, cables, refrigerators, mobile phones: all of these things eventually end up as e-waste, and there are huge quantities of it in Ghana. This poses a problem because there is no functioning recycling system. Thermoplastic, a commonly used plastic in electrical devices, can be found in abundance in Ghana’s scrap yards. It is difficult to recycle and therefore hard to sell. Workers in scrap yards usually burn it, which releases carbon dioxide as well as particulate matter and carcinogens into the air. This is harmful to the environment and to the health of the people living and working nearby. GIZ therefore supports companies in Ghana in recycling materials that would otherwise be burned or discarded. Four such companies, including Mago Motors, handle the difficult-to-recycle thermoplastic.

Safe, environmentally friendly and socially responsible, from start to finish

GIZ has been working with the Ghanaian Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) since 2016 to make the recycling of e-waste more environmentally friendly and better for people’s health. Since 2023, the project has been focusing more closely on thermoplastic, partly due to a comprehensive environmental and climate assessment. This assessment is part of GIZ’s Safeguards+Gender Management System and is mandatory for projects like the one in Ghana. With this system, we ensure that all of the projects we implement are sustainable and (gender) equitable. Around 300 projects undergo the standardised assessment process each year. The projects themselves check whether the measures they have planned could have a negative impact or harness additional potential with regard to the environment, climate, conflict, human rights or gender equality. This allows them to clarify before the project even begins whether there could be any unintended impacts on people or the environment, and to plan any additional measures where these are required. The project then implements these over its entire term.

Dieneke ter Huurne, Head of the Safeguards+Gender Management System Section, explains why GIZ ensures that its work is sustainable and social compatible, and how it does so.
Portrait photo: Dieneke ter Huurne.

»We are not satisfied until we have done everything to ensure our projects are effective.«

Dieneke ter Huurne, Head of the Safeguards+Gender Management System Section
© GIZ
The environmental and climate assessment in Ghana identified materials that are especially harmful to the environment and health or are difficult to recycle – materials such as thermoplastic. ‘The key question is how can we prevent the improper disposal of e-waste from harming the environment?’ explains Ellen Gunsilius, a GIZ environmental expert who accompanied the project assessment. The assessment enabled the project to identify new priority areas and additional activities, such as new methods of recycling problematic materials that had not been previously addressed. ‘The burning of thermoplastic releases particularly large amounts of pollutants into the air, causing harm to people and the environment. To counteract this, the decision was made to support business models that contribute to a more sustainable value chain.’

300

projects undergo a Safeguards+Gender assessment each year.

Environmentally sound disposal and recycling of e-waste in Ghana – supporting Ghana in introducing a sustainable e-waste management system

Commissioned by German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Location Ghana
Term 2016 to 2026

This is how the initiative to support companies that recycle thermoplastic instead of burning it was born. One example is the recycling company Mago Motors. Scrap yard workers benefit, too. Instead of burning the thermoplastic, they can sell it to these companies and are therefore no longer exposed to the pollutants released during burning. To prevent old devices from ending up on Ghanaian scrap heaps in the first place, proposals for more efficient take-back systems were also developed as part of the environmental and climate assessment.

From e-waste to imitation marble

The local context plays a vital role in project assessments. The project in Ghana, for example, works closely with EPA, refining existing government guidelines on e-waste through the measures identified in the environmental and climate assessment. At the same time, the project and EPA ensure that supported companies comply with environmental standards on a long-term basis.

To enter into partnership with GIZ, Mago Motors had to show evidence of environmental certification, for example. Kofi Addo, a manager at Mago Motors, says: ‘Through the certification process and subsequent collaboration with GIZ, we identified and resolved problems in the separation of production waste.’ As a result, the recycling process has become more environmentally friendly.

Portrait photo: Kofi Addo.

»We greatly appreciate the close cooperation with GIZ’s technical advisors. It has allowed us to progress twice as quickly as before.«

Kofi Addo, Manager Mago Motors
© Mettle's Magazine / Mago Motors
Photo: Zwei Männer arbeiten an einer Maschine.
New machines are helping Mago Motors to sort thermoplastic.
© Mettle’s Magazine / Mago Motors

Mago Motors’ innovative recycling model was what won GIZ over. Kofi Addo explains: ‘We sort the thermoplastic by colour, wash it and shred it. Then we export the granules. Our customers use them to make plastic marble for kitchen worktops and the like.’ Besides making the granules, Mago Motors wants to make the imitation marble itself in the future, adds Kofi. The partnership with GIZ gives him the confidence that this can happen soon. ‘Through the partnership, we have already been able to buy better machines. And in the first training course, we learned to sort the thermoplastic not only by colour but by chemical components as well. This way, we can repurpose it even more effectively.’

The thermoplastic industry is now an integral part of the project in Ghana, which has been continuously evolving since 2016. Together with our partners and commissioning parties and with the help of our internal control system, we are always looking for ways to make our projects even more environmentally friendly and socially responsible and adapting them where necessary – as we have done in Ghana.

Portrait photo: Larry Kotoe.

»If we want to protect the environment on a lasting basis, we have to consider the entire e-waste value chain. Specific assessments and protective measures, such as those we conduct and implement in our activities with GIZ, help us to achieve this. They ensure that measures are planned in a way that is inclusive of social and environmental concerns of vulnerable individuals and communities.«

Larry Kotoe, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Ghana
© GIZ / Veronika Johannes
Below you will find information about the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) sustainability standards:

Material topic 2: Protection of natural resources