Don't recycle 'e-waste' with haste, activists warn

Don't recycle 'e-waste' with haste, activists warn - Avatar Posted by Fenessy under Technology
From 4576 days ago
Made Hot by: on October 13, 2008 6:44 am
Consumers saddled with old cellphones, TVs and computers are flocking to electronics recycling events, which have sprung up in more than 1,000 communities over the past four years.

But don't be fooled, activists warn. Items collected at free events are sometimes destined for salvage yards in developing nations, where toxins spill into the water, the air and the lungs of laborers paid a few dollars per day to extract materials.

If nobody is paying the collectors to take this stuff, especially if they're getting a lot of televisions, then they are very likely exporting because that's how they make the economics work.

"E-waste," or electronics trash, is piling up faster than ever, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Americans discarded 47 million computers in 2005, up from 20 million in 1998. Factor in other forms of electronics, and the nation now dumps between 300 million and 400 million electronic items per year.

Still, recycling rates are rising. Free drop-off events, designed primarily to keep lead, mercury, barium and other e-waste toxins out of local landfills, have attracted overflow crowds in the past year.

When recyclers cart away e-waste, what happens next can vary widely. Some separate glass, metal and plastics, and then make sure that most reusable materials find their way into new products. Others bring their loads to brokers, who ship contents overseas to salvagers, who pay to mine mountainous piles for precious metals and other valuables.

This tapestry of approaches is possible because recyclers don't have to be certified. U.S. law permits the export of electronic waste to developing nations.

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Written by readwacker
4573 days ago

If anyone is looking for a good computer recycling firm, we use PC Disposal ( and have always been happy.

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