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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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RE: I wish I had thought of it...
By masher2 on 7/8/2008 9:52:22 AM , Rating: 2
> "What anti-environmentalist nacho brained folks don't get is that when lead is in ore, it's usually encased in rock and rarely, if ever, sees the light of day"

Eh? Have you ever seen a galena deposit? It's not somehow hermetically sealed in rock, the lead ore itself *is* the rock. Quite often that galena is exposed directly to the surface, and even when it isn't, it is *always* exposed to ground water runoff...water that eventually winds up in lakes and streams.

> "Lead from components, on the other hand, are exposed to elements which cause it to break down, toxify soil and water"

What in the world do you think lead solder "breaks down" into? It's **already** broken down into elemental form.

> " True, CO2 for the most part is innocuous. Too much of anything, however, is usually fatal"

Yes, a CO2 level of 250,000 ppm in the atmosphere would likely be fatal. However, we could burn every shred of coal and oil on the planet, and we're not going to get above 3000ppm or so, making your point entirely moot.

> " It can also be substantiated that it's damaging. Do I really need to include citations? "

Increased CO2 in the atmosphere has far more beneficial effects than damaging ones, including increased plant growth, agricultural benefits, and many others. Here's a summary of research demonstrating such -- it contains citations to well over 100 papers:

"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke
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