Electronic Waste Essay

5162 WordsNov 10, 201221 Pages
Close-up E-waste dump of the world By Tim Johnson Knight Ridder Newspapers PREV 1 of 2 NEXT | NORMAN NG / KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERSA worker piles discarded aluminum computer casings on the back of a motorized transport at the town of Guiyu in southern China.Workers extract plastics from discarded electronics in Guiyu, a few hours' drive northeast of Hong Kong. The city has 5,500 family workshops handling e-waste. | | Related * Q&A: Important facts about computer recycling | GUIYU, China — When discarded computers vanish from desktops around the world, they often end up in Guiyu, which may be the electronic-waste capital of the globe. The city is a sprawling computer slaughterhouse. Some 60,000 laborers toil here at primitive e-waste recycling — if it can be called that — even as the work imperils their health amid a runoff of toxic metals and acids. Computer carcasses line the streets, awaiting dismemberment. Circuit boards and hard drives lie in huge mounds. At thousands of workshops, laborers shred and grind plastic casings into particles, snip cables and pry chips from circuit boards. Workers pass the boards through red-hot kilns or acid baths to dissolve lead, silver and other metals from the digital detritus. The acrid smell of burning solder and melting plastic fills the air. Scavenging, not recycling "I don't think this is recycling," said Wu Song, an environmental activist from nearby Shantou University. "They ignore the environment." What occurs is more akin to e-waste scavenging. Though China bans imports of electronic waste, its factories clamor for raw materials, even those yanked from the guts of discarded computers, and ill-informed workers seek out computer-recycling jobs. So the ban is ignored, and the waste comes in torrents. Under the guise of "recycling," U.S. e-waste brokers ship discarded computers and dump an

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