High-Tech Living – Low-Tech Recycling

Where do you dump your electronic trash? If you live in the western world you probably recycle stuff like soda cans, paper, bottles etc. But do you recycle your old TV? Do you toss out old equipment somewhere else than at a recycle station? And most important of all, do you know how much money there is to make on high-tech trash?

I’ve wanted to write this article for a long time now. Some months ago I read an article in National Geographic, the January number, and there are a lot of facts and interesting things to know about where the mountain of trash ends up. I had the idea that I wanted this article to be long and informative, but at this point I realize that Carroll’s article is well written and include graphics which makes it easy for one to follow. Anyway, I'll give you a short introduction before I give you a link to the article.

The article by Chris Carroll included a report from Accra, Ghana, where young people salvage scrap metal from electronics etc. I did not know that a lot of TV sets, computers, screens etc. aren’t recycled in the west, but in countries that have not got the money to take care of its own waste. Curcuit boards and anything you can imagine that is based on electronics can be found in many poor regions around the world. Kids start fires and burn away plastic to salvage the metals that are used for wiring, toxic fumes spread and the young boys (and perhaps girls?) sit there by the fires and breath these fumes. Moreover, electronics contain a lot of hazardous materials that are harmful for our nature.

Electronics that used to be state of the art are now brought to the third world to be reused and recycled. Some of the large, (and I do mean really large) amounts of waste and units are recycled domestically in the western world. However, a lot of things are less expensive to recycle in the third world. Industrial countries, like the U.S. for example, have the right equipment to take care of the recycling efficiently and properly, lessening the stress on both human beings and out nature. However, it is too expensive. They cannot compete with the price in countries like Ghana and China.

Carroll writes that in the United States it is “estimated that more than 70 percent of discarded computers and monitors, and over 80 percent of TVs, eventually end up in landfills, despite a growing number of state laws that prohibit dumping of e-waste, which may leak lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, beryllium, and other toxics into the ground”. What a waste of produced goods.

Take your time to read the article over here: High-Tech Trash

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