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Many electronics recycled at free events are destined for recycling in developing nations

The recycling of damaged and obsolete electronic devices has been a hot topic here in America. Many states and environmental watchdog agencies want to keep potentially hazardous materials out of the landfills in America. The issue is that it is possible that hazardous materials used in electronics could seep into the ground water.

To help prevent electronics from ending up in landfills, there have been many recycling events held around the U.S. that are sponsored by electronics makers and are sometimes sponsored by companies who plan to recycle the products for their plastics, glass, and precious metals.

USA Today reports that activists are warning that items collected at free electronic recycling events are often ending up in salvage yards in developing nations. Barbara Kyle, national coordinator for the Electronics TakeBack Coalition says, “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.”

The fear activists have is that the electronics that end up in developing nations will be recycled by laborers who will be exposed to toxic substances and where the toxic substances could leech into the ground water. The laborers who harvest the electronics are only paid dollars per day according to activists.

Don’t feel bad for receiving free recycling services though. The companies recycling the obsolete electronics are not doing it out of the kindness of their hearts or to make the world a better place -- it’s done for profits.

Most of the companies offering free recycling are mining the products for precious metals like gold and silver. Some electronics recycling firms mine more gold form e-waste like cell phones than is produced from a gold mine.



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By roostitup on 7/8/2008 3:44:39 AM , Rating: 2
I believe that you are looking at it in the wrong way, every little bit helps. There may be lots of lead and other toxins in the ground, but not even close to as concentrated as they are in landfills and not directly connected to our water supply. Considering that the average American throws away at least 2 electronic devices (possibly more) a year the total amount of electronic waste is horribly large. Sure one cell phone may have .001% lead, arsenic, or whatever else within the device, but multiply that by 500,000+ and that is a lot of lead and/or toxic waste that could and should be taken care of to help protect the environment for the present and future. Having this mentality only makes the problem worse.


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