Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Dark Side of Recycling

The following is a disturbing profile of the state of the computer recycling business in the United States, and where the electronics end up.

The town of Guiyo in southern China is now one of the most polluted places on earth, registering the highest levels of cancer causing dioxins anywhere recorded. Governments are guilty of turning a blind eye, as businesses in both the US and China profit from the poisonous conditions.

"The situation in Guiyu is actually pre-capitalist. It's mercantile. It reverts back to a time when people lived where they worked, lived at their shop. Open, uncontrolled burning of plastics. These are among the most toxic compounds known on earth."

"We have a situation where we have 21st century toxics being managed in a 17th century environment."



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4 comments:

James Higham said...

You mean US recycling equipment went to China?

E. R. Dunhill said...

Kori,
Thanks for posting on this. The problem that CBS reports is occurring in China is a pervasive one, going on in many poorer nations. National Geographic published an article on e-waste earlier this year. NGM describes children in Ghana tending fires to burn plastic insulation away from copper wires, and families in India recovering heavy metals with the same pots they prepare food in.
In the short-term, we have to stop breaking international laws by smuggling toxic waste into countries that reduce costs at the expense of their people's health; failure to enforce is not acceptable. In the long-term, we have to be mindful of the amount and toxicity of waste in the products we buy. In many cases, products can be designed to contain less harmful wsate with little impact on function or cost. Why don't we do that?

Joan said...

That is horrendous. The choice between poverty or poison...
Wow.

Flug said...

Hello and good day,

the town of Guiyo in southern China is a very dirty place. Maybe on of the most dirty places in this world.

As an European I feel ashamed to see what happens on the other side of this beautiful planet.
Although I am not able to change these situations, I try to show my responsibility towards nature.

There is nothing I hate more than people who throw their trash on the ground or in a deep forrest!
I hope that Obama is more for environmental protection, further I hope that other nations( China, Japan) will follow this good example!

Thank you!