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global electronic waste crisis caused by improper electronic recycling

Today the de-manufacturing and recycling industry for electronics lacks standards and accountability. Many "recyclers” just strip out the valuable components of electronics and sell the rest to brokers who, in turn, sell them to lower-tier scavengers. When irresponsible de-manufacturers cannot easily dump less lucrative remains in local landfills, they ship these highly toxic remnants to poorer developing nations, taking advantage of cheaper labor and a lack of environmental and safety regulations.

Workers in these countries earn less than $0.17 per day salvaging whatever is left. The remains are highly toxic and often dumped in the waterways, on farm land, along roadsides, or burned.

"All e-waste contains mercury and lead, and the practices of open burning of plastic waste, exposure to toxic solders, river dumping of acids, and widespread general dumping has become a threat to villagers' health and environment"
Public Affairs Information Service

"About 50 percent of the electronics waste sent into these areas is discarded. Lead levels in some rivers have been found to be 190 times higher than levels considered acceptable by the World Health Organization. Villagers report stomach and breathing problems, and have to ship in their drinking water."
National Public Radio

Open burning of wires and other parts is done to recover metals such as steel and copper. Dioxins and furans are released into the atomosphere due to the use of PVCs and brominated flame retardants in these components.
Basel Action Network, December 2001

Exports for Reuse Often Not Viable

Often, organizations collect used computer systems to send to developing countries to try and help these nations bridge the "digital divide." This rationalization for illegal overseas dumping causes more harm than good for the citizens of these countries.

"In Lagos, while there is a legitimate robust market and ability to repair and refurbish old electronic equipment including computers, monitors, TVs and cell phones, the local experts complain that of the estimated 500 40-foot containers shipped to Lagos each month, as much as 75% of the imports are "junk" and are not economically repairable or marketable."
Basel Action Network

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