WEEE electronic wasteland

Agbobloshie, Ghana. Photo: Fairphone

They call them “electronic graveyards”: vast dumping grounds in developing nations, where millions of tonnes of discarded computers and appliances from other parts of the world are sent to find a final, toxic resting place. It often costs less to dump the goods overseas than recycle them properly, so things like broken televisions, computers and keyboards are shipped to countries like Ghana (above), where people in poverty sift through them for parts to sell. It’s poisonous not only to local waterways and soil, but also to the people who are trying to make a living from dealing with the electronic waste, and those in the neighbourhood affected by toxic fumes from burn-off. 

WEEE go green stafff

St James’ Settlement’s WEEE Go Green project takes broken appliances and electronic goods from Crossroads, and repairs or recycles them.

We’re acutely aware at Crossroads that when the planet suffers, its people suffer too, and it’s the poor who are left the most vulnerable to environmental change. Each year, we’re donated thousands of electronic and electrical goods, which we gratefully redistribute to people in need. Sometimes, though, donated appliances and computers are broken or missing parts and need to be disposed of. When that happens, we want to manage the disposal process in a way that causes the least harm to the environment.

“WEEE Go Green has recycled or repaired 38,443kg of Crossroads’ electronic and electrical waste.”

Enter St James’ Settlement and their ‘WEEE Go Green’ project! For more than seven years we have partnered on the project, which offers a neat solution to the problem of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) in Hong Kong. Their workshop in Tuen Mun takes discarded WEEE from around the city and then trains and employs disadvantaged people from the community to process the goods. Whatever can be fixed is repaired and donated to the elderly and other needy groups and whatever can’t be fixed is stripped and recycled efficiently. Crossroads’ partnership on the project has been an investment not only in the lives of those employed, who have been given new skills and opportunities, but in the health of our planet and the people who suffer because of environmental damage.

The project trains and employs disadvantaged people from the Hong Kong community to process, repair and recycle electronic and electrical waste.

The project trains and employs disadvantaged people from the Hong Kong community to process, repair and recycle electronic and electrical waste.

Over the course of our partnership, Crossroads has given WEEE Go Green a hefty 38,443kg of electronic and electrical waste. Some of those items were even repaired and given back to Crossroads, so that we could give them away to our clients in need. On other occasions, the workshop has sourced equipment for our own operations, like a chest freezer (below) that our kitchen staff needed to store food for daily volunteer catering. They also supply us with new rice cookers for local clients who need them, from a stockpile of 30,000 donated to them – an incredible and valuable gift!


A huge chest freezer sourced by WEEE Go Green has been a valuable addition to Crossroads’ volunteer catering department.

In a city that generates 70,000 tonnes in WEEE each year, it is a privilege to partner with groups like St James’ Settlement who care enough about our environment and our people to make Hong Kong a safer place for both.

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Changing lives through training

Sango is an orphan in the Congo, Africa, whose life could have turned out very differently. Without parents to support him, Sango missed out on school entirely. He never learnt to read or write, or do more than the basic maths he picked up on the streets of his town.

Congo_2A local NGO gave Sango the opportunity to enroll in their programs, and even having missed out on a primary and secondary education, he trained in carpentry and soon became a qualified carpenter. The NGO gave him the carpentry equipment he needed to start a small business, and today Sango is married, and earning an income to support his family.The NGO’s most successful programs is a training centre for widows, young adult orphans and other vulnerable people, where they teach job skills and equip trainees with the things they need to start earning a living.
To support their work against poverty, Crossroads is shipping a container of things like furniture, household and electrical goods, clothing to distribute to the poorest in the community, school and sports supplies for their work with children and youth, and much more. Helping change lives through training!



Mrs Makiwa, was poor and vulnerable, but for a different reason. Mrs Makiwa’s husband died, leaving her without the means to earn more than a tiny subsistence income, and terrified for her children’s future.Mrs Makiwa trained in the NGO’s programs and was given a sewing machine to begin a tailoring business. Now, instead of living a hand-to-mouth existence as a poor widow, Mrs Makiwa is able to earn enough to take care of her children’s education and health needs, living together as a family.

This shipment will include furniture, to continue to train widows like Mrs Makiwa a chance to earn for her family and overcome poverty in DR Congo.

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DR Congo Snapshot

Population: 77.43 million
Capital: Kinshasa

DR Congo is located in central sub-Saharan Africa, straddling the equator. It experiences the highest frequency of thunderstorms in the world with a tropical climate.

Although, one of the most resource rich nations in the world,  74% of people in DR Congo live below the international poverty line of US$1.25/day, one of the highest rates in the world.