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Obsolete and non-functioning consumer waste finds its way to third world countries

The United Nations held a conference this week called the 8th Conference of the Parties where UN members discussed primarily issues affecting the environment. The main topic was what they called "e-waste."

A byproduct of technology that was once cutting edge, e-waste is basically old technology that has become obsolete and consumers no longer want them. Old televisions, computers, phones and other electronics are getting moved overseas, to third world countries and being "dumped" there for people to use. While the concept of recycling is definitely the idea, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, Achim Steiner, expressed a high degree of concern over e-waste.

During his speech to UN members, Steiner noted "If these were good quality, second hand, pieces of equipment this would perhaps be a positive trade of importance for development." Most people would consider this a fairly positive bit up to this point. Steiner then expressed concerns that most products being shipped over either have malfunctions or are completely non-functioning. "But local experts estimate that between a quarter to 75 per cent of these items including old TVs, CPUs and phones are defunct—in other words E-waste, in other words long distance dumping from developed country consumers and companies to an African rubbish tip or landfill," continued Steiner.

The UN meeting suggests that manufacturers begin looking at ways to truly recycle used and non-functional electronic equipment. Nokia for example, announced recyclable phones earlier this year. The phones would be taken back to a break-down facility where a specific degree of heat would cause the phone to instantly break apart into individual components. Product designs like this easily help manufacturers salvage old products and refurbish them for uses elsewhere. Developing countries where technology is slow moving can benefit from recycling schemes such as Nokia's.

Near the end of his speech, Steiner pointed out that China was a country leading the world in terms of a "circular economy," where nothing was wasted. A circular economy is a concept where one product is a raw material for another product. And a product could be anything from a hand-held instrument to heat for warming homes.

According to UNEP study, "Some progress in the areas of electronics is being made and I congratulate the Basel Secretariat and responsible members of industry for the Mobile Phone Partnership Initiative. There is a lot that can be done like take back schemes, recycling projects and certification of exports showing them as functioning equipment."

Whatever the case may be, e-waste has definitely grown to international proportions and the concern is very real. It's a reality that landfills are piling up with waste and more electronic consumer products are being manufactured in mass quantities daily. At the same time, massive amount of products are being thrown away by consumer -- most of which are still usable.

It appears as though the world has come along way since the introduction of the "three R's" concept.


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RE: Looks Like
By Tyler 86 on 11/30/2006 4:38:34 PM , Rating: 3
I guess that makes me a conservative anarchist... yikes.

> (This makes no sense to me as I would think logic minded people would be more conservative than liberal)

While logic restrains one from indulging in actions deemed unethical, logic also argues "why not?" - but it's the genius with no common sense that opens pandora's box.

> Unless you've done some extensive polls across the entire country, covering all social layers, you're basing that statement on a very limited and biased selection. I'm not saying you're necessarily wrong, but how do you know "the majority" agree with you?

We, as Americans, have liberal and conservative polls on the hour and every half hour. It's disorienting. They're worthless.

I've learned by expirience that "the majority" is a very frayed card to play, and is claimed/used when one feels confident AND rejected... It only offends anyone who isn't "the majority", or anyone who disagrees with you, who is also a membef of "the majority".
Claim no political followship, lead no political flock, simply be politicly concerned - basicly, stop 'playing' politics.

I'm opposed to "protected free speech", but opposed more to punishment of political bias - it has educational value.
I propose "unprotected free speech", which is pretty much what the US has now...
Expressing bias can get a judge thrown off a case, associating hate crimes with context sensitive wording, sexual harassment lawsuits standing on a hair trigger, counter intelligence 'programs and applications', intelligence gathering 'hardware', etc, etc...

First it was just landfills, then came toxic waste, and now e-waste? It's getting way too crowded way too fast.
I think that's why shit's rolling down hill. I'm partial to finding a way to survive off this rock, so I can get off this rock without jonesing for air ("pollution problem"), air conditioning ("global warming"), or waste disposal (frickin' "e-waste"), but most of all, so I don't have to listen to people complain about that crap.

Oh, and yeah, 'most europeans' are liberal by American standards, but so are American 'moderates' (laugh out loud), but 'most europeans' have a way to go before you touch American ultra-liberal standards...
I mean, hell, you guys went to war with us, pretty much, just because we went to war. I mean sure, you guys provided some "intelligence", faulty or not, but you didn't have to go...
Now, I don't have the whole story on that, and I don't really care about it, but my opinion on what I gather, I don't particularly know if that's liberal, or conservative, but it's definantly not ultra-liberal (filibustering to slow us down) or ultra-conservative (beating us to the punch)...

I haven't heard any 'decent' politics since I was 13, and the then most "liberal democrats" could pass for today's "conservative majority"... Maybe it was just my youthful perspective... but it's all so damn dirty now.

Anyway, times change, things get thrown away, here's some of them. Enjoy, Africa. I mean, what the fuck... we're not going to use them... If they don't work, feel free to chuck them at the tourists.


"Folks that want porn can buy an Android phone." -- Steve Jobs

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