Ghana leaves secondhand fridges out in bid to save energy | Afua Hirsch

From Global development | The Guardian Thu Jan 17 2013, 02:00:01

Despite a government incentive scheme, many Ghanaians are unhappy about the introduction of a ban on used fridges

Behind a once mint-coloured concrete wall - now stained by red dust - in a hilly suburb of Ghana's capital, Accra, a large machine is making history as it chugs and whirrs away.

It is a mobile fridge degassing unit - the first of its kind on the entire African continent, its owners say - and it is sucking poisonous gases out of hundreds of Ghana's discarded secondhand fridges. The machine was imported from Germany by City Waste Management, a company specialising in the safe disposal of electronic waste.

"We take out the poisonous gases and we separate the oils," says Vivian Atiaybor, 41, the field co-ordinator and public relations manager for City Waste. "Since October, we have processed 450 fridges here, and there are another 600 already waiting for us to collect. Many of these fridges are so old that even within our households they are already letting off poisonous gases."

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