18 November 2007

Where is our recycled e-waste really going?

From the Associated Press:
"While there are no precise figures, activists estimate that 50 to 80 percent of the 300,000 to 400,000 tons of electronics collected for recycling in the U.S. each year ends up overseas. Workers in countries such as China, India and Nigeria then use hammers, gas burners and their bare hands to extract metals, glass and other recyclables, exposing themselves and the environment to a cocktail of toxic chemicals.

'It's being recycled, but it's being recycled in the most horrific way you can imagine,' said Jim Puckett of the Basel Action Network, the Seattle-based environmental group that tipped off Hong Kong authorities. 'We're preserving our own environment, but contaminating the rest of the world.'"
When I was growing up someone in my family told me that you shouldn't bother recycling because they usually just threw it away anyway. Obviously I don't believe that anymore, but the thought that the materials I'm recycling aren't betting the status of our environment frightens me. E-waste presents a plethora of problems, and in this consumer age we're in it's just going to get worse. There's many more gadgets on the market than ever before, and when something new comes out, say the iPhone for example, everyone's old stuff gets tossed aside. One major problem it that it's impossible to convince people not to buy that new toy.

I don't know how, but it's obvious that someone needs to come up with a plan for better management of our electronic waste.

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