IT'S common knowledge that Britain is having difficulty finding places to dispose of all its waste - domestic, commercial and industrial. Landfills are in short supply and in any case are not suitable for all kinds of discarded items. However it will have come as a shock to many people to discover that the solution to the problem is thought in some quarters to be to ship the unwanted stuff to third world countries. The latest discovery is of 1'400 tonnes of what seems to be hospital waste that has been sent to Brazil; bags of bloods, syringes, used bandages and even seats from chemical toilets have been festering in 90 containers in a Brazilian port and are to be returned to Britain at the government's expense. A rubbish dump in Ghana has been the last resting place of electrical equipment from Britain which has attracted the attention of young children who risk exposure to deadly chemicals as they try to strip out scrap metal. Britain is not the only offender; a recent report said that dumps in Nigeria and Ghana regularly take in fifteen shipping containers of unwanted electronics from Europe and Asia every day.

There are laws and regulations to prevent this disgraceful trade but many of them are ignored by both sides of the business. The bottom line is that it costs one hundred times more to handle toxic waste on site in Europe than it does to get rid of it to Africa.


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