"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."