Blowing the Lid off Unscrupulous E-WastersPhil Biundo
A recent story by Earthfix from Katie Campbell @KatieCampbell and Ken Christensen has exposed some rather troubling truths about where consumers’ used electronics are going when they send them to some recycling companies. According to a study conducted by Basel Action Network in conjunction with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, what we think is being recycled responsibly is actually going on quite the unusual, and environmentally irresponsible, journey.
Two years ago, Jim Puckett at Basel Action Network @BaselAction helped to place 200 tracking devices inside of “dead” electronics. They dropped these off at “sustainable,” “green,” “earth-friendly” recycling and donation centers. Here is just some of what he has discovered:
E-Waste Travels Far
The tracking devices soon sent back signals from overseas locations such as Hong Kong, Thailand, Pakistan, and Kenya just to name a few. Often they were smuggled past customs as “solid plastic” despite containing toxic mercury laden components to be broken down by cheaper labor across the borders. The implications of this are many, beginning with the environmental impact of barges laden with these components travelling unnecessary distances to reach their final destination.
Danger at the End of the Line
This cheaper labor comes at a price: workers who are there to support their families have no idea of the dangerous, cancer causing components they are handling. The bare metals of the components, such as copper, are painstakingly stripped of plastic coatings in order to be sold for profit. Workers are provided with no personal protective equipment or safety training on how to handle the deadly components. Uneducated laborers are trading their long-term health and local environment for extraordinarily low wages.
Long Term Impact of E-Waste
The burning of plastics at these facilities has a devastating impact on the local environment, and the health of those within the community. Cancer causing dioxins are found in extremely high levels not only in the air, but also in the water and even the soil.
As a family company built on environmental responsibility, Filmar @filmardotcom will continue to study the findings of this experiment. Our local refiners dispose of all e-waste on site, grinding them down to bare minerals and disposing of all plastics properly.