Today Reuters reports on Guiyu, a Chinese e-wasteland:
Guiyu is a modern day gold rush town. But instead of panning for gold in babbling streams, workers shift through piles of broken old computer parts in acrid smelling shacks, smelting down parts with crude equipment to extract valuable metals like gold and copper. [Full text]
For an in-depth look at this topic, see CDT blogger Michael Zhao’s “e-Dump” web feature, which traces electronic waste or “e-dump” as it travels from various places, including the United States, to China. His website provides an animated map of how computers from UC Berkeley travel down south to become e-dump, a video of China’s trash town, as well as facts and solutions for the electronic waste crisis that is harming China’s environment. Zhao writes in his introduction:
Every day, the world dumps thousands of tons of e-waste on China, where it ends up polluting communities and harming the public health. At least half of e-waste collected for “recycling” in North America gets exported, according to environmental groups, and about 80% of that goes to China. The United States, where up to 380 million electronics or almost 2.2 million tons became obsolete in 2005, leads the transboundary, hazardous traffic.
The US government disagrees with environmentalists that most of these exports are poisoning the poor and their environment. Coupled with the electronics industry’s tardiness to act green, reducing the harm overseas is and will remaind a daunting, long-term battle.