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The Green Penguin - Where Does Your E-Waste Go?

Nov 19, 2008, 22:33 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by James Gray)

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"How grave is the problem of e-waste? The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (SVTC) says that it is chronic, with e-waste composing "the fastest growing part of the waste stream". SVTC says that around 90% of e-waste ends up directly in landfills, with the rest getting mixed treatment in the recycling stream. Of the recycled materials, only 20% goes through what we would call recycling, with a full 80% getting shipped off to developing countries.

"What happens in poor countries is prime fodder for investigative journalism. Recyclers there use primitive and dangerous means to extract minimal amounts of valuable materials. Circuit boards are processed with open flames or acid baths, monitors and TVs filled with lead are smashed open with basic tools, plastics are melted with toxic flame retardants. All of this is generally done by poor workers, often including children. The final resting place for most e-waste is a toxic heap of hazardous materials that leach into the ground and air."

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