Choking on Toxic Waste: Responsible Recycling

Posted by

This story was first published in 2008 and then again in 2009; I want to use it to bring attention to the importance of responsible cell phone recycling and proper disposal of electronic waste.

Published on CBS News and highlighted by 60 minutes, the story is one of a small town in China; where many of our electronic goods find themselves at the end of their useful life. It’s a story about e-waste and, unfortunately, one about irresponsible recycling.

Shipping electronic waste across borders in that way is often illegal; but it still happens. In this instance highlighted by 60 minutes, the party participating was a company called Executive Recycling who was caught selling thousands of CRT monitors and televisions to brokers in China. The waste, once reaching its destination, was ‘recycled’ – dismantled using out-dated methods which did not protect the workers (peasant farmers down on their luck) and their children from the toxic wastes produced. Women heated circuit boards over coal fires, pulling out chips and pouring off the lead solder. Men used a literally medieval acid recipe to extract the gold.

The toxic pollution levels were such that seven out of 10 children have too much lead in their blood and drinking water has to be trucked in. Here, are found some of the highest level of cancer-causing dioxins in the world and miscarriages are six-times higher.

While we cannot guarantee that every recycling company out there uses modern, legal, safe recycling practices, we can continue to make people aware of the importance not only of recycling, but responsible recycling.