Thursday, January 29, 2009

Electronic waste exports not meeting rules; a huge problem, out of control?

If you really want to worry about your karma, look at the Time Magazine article Jan 19 “E-Waste Not” by Bryan Walsh, link.

The “short of it” is that a lot of our electronic waste (computers, cell phones, TV’s) winds up in Guiyu, China. If you want to wonder about dependence on the poor and slave-wages in other countries, think what the poor do contaminating themselves in this town salvaging scrap.

A Government Accountability Office report, Aug. 2008 (link here (“Electronic Waste: EPA Needs to Better Control Harmful U.S. Exports through Stronger Enforcement and More Comprehensive Regulation”) found that 43% of all recycle exports bypass required permissions from the Environmental Protection Agency of destination countries.

ABC News had reported on this problem in April 2008, in a story by Grant Gross, here. ABC also offers a "gross out" slide show of five graphic pictures of waste in China here.

The Time article does note many improvements in manufacturing computers, to use much less of toxic substances.

Computer manufacturers like Dell have charged small fees for recycling old machines. Most cities have recycling events once a year around the time of Earth Day. Washington DC has often held one at the Convention Center.

Sustainability, everyone?

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