The Often Misleading State of Electronic Waste Recycling

PBS Frontline featured a disturbing piece recently concerning the processing of electronic waste. With an undercover investigation, Frontline revealed how Americans and Europeans are assured they are "recycling" electronic waste safely and locally. Instead it is all loaded onto containers that are shipped to Ghana or the southern Chinese city of Guiyu where people work in extremely dangerous conditions burning plastics, and poisoning themselves with heavy metals to extract trace amounts of precious metals. The waste is transported under the guise of "donations." While Africa particularly needs electronics if they have any hope of ever developing, Westerners should be made aware of the environmental and human dangers of e-waste "recycling," and law enforcement agencies ought to investigate fraud and environmental destruction in this regard. Hearing that one is "recycling" tends to eliminate a feeling of guilt for many Westerners, but the reality in this case is far from that.

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