E-waste is a growing problem. In the U.S. alone, over 400 million units, or 3.4 million tons, of consumer electronics are …
06/13/2016 / By D. Samuelson
E-waste is a growing problem. In the U.S. alone, over 400 million units, or 3.4 million tons, of consumer electronics are scrapped each year replete with their toxic ingredients. According to the Electronics Take Back Coalition (ETBC), tube televisions “have between four and eight pounds of lead in them. Most of the flat panel monitors and TVs being recycled contain less les, but more mercury . . . About 40% of the heavy metals, including lead, mercury and cadmium, in landfills come from electronic equipment discards.”
Who does the recycling? According to ETBC, the “federal government operates prison-based recycling plants. UNICOR is wholly-owned by the Department of Justice . . . and has been found in numerous violations of health, safety and environmental laws.” This same callous and careless attitude toward recycling toxic e-waste is also exported globally.
As reported by The Intercept, “A TWO-YEAR INVESTIGATION of electronics recycling using GPS tracking devices has revealed that policies aimed at curtailing the trade in toxic e-waste have been unsuccessful, with nearly one-third of the devices being exported to developing countries, where equipment is often dismantled in low-tech workshops — often by children — endangering workers, their families, and contaminating the surrounding environment.”
The mission of the nonprofit Basel Action Network (BAN) based in Seattle, Washington is to stop the commodity trading surrounding toxic waste. They decided to track units that were being dropped off for recycling and see where they really ended up.
The Intercept reports, “‘This equipment was left for recycling in more than a dozen states across the country between July 1, 2014, and December 31, 2015; 149 devices went to recyclers, 49 to thrift stores (mainly Goodwill) and two to retailers. What we found out is that quite a large percentage of this equipment is flowing offshore,’ said [BAN executive director] Jim Puckett. . .
“Most of this equipment went to Hong Kong. But other devices were tracked to 10 different countries that include China, Taiwan, Pakistan, Mexico, Thailand, Cambodia and Kenya. While China has been a major e-waste export destination, the government there has been cracking down on these imports . . .”
The Intercept reports, “BAN calculates that the U.S. is exporting between 314,000 and 376,800 tons of e-waste annually — or 43 to 52 container loads daily. If not disposed of properly, e-waste can release numerous toxics — heavy metals including lead, mercury, and cadmium; and chemicals, among them brominated flame retardants and dioxins and — into the environment. Numerous studies have found toxics associated with e-waste leaching from landfills, contaminating waterways, and contributing to global air pollution. In developing countries where informal and rudimentary electronics recycling often takes place, this e-waste processing has led to high levels to toxic exposures, including for children.”
Again, from the Intercept: “‘What drives this business are commodity prices, what recyclers can make on glass, plastics and metals. When those prices are low, as they are now, it’s difficult to turn a profit if the costs of dismantling equipment are high. . . ‘ explained Sage Sustainable Electronics founder and CEO Robert Houghton.”
While the government works on their master plan to control your outbound breath (Co2) under the guise of climate change, they couldn’t care less about their e-waste, or any poison they spew.
Sounds like business as usual.