Not all electronics recycling companies in the US and Europe follow stringent environmental practices like GreenCitizen. There are electronics recycling companies that engage in global dumping and instead of recycling electronics responsibly, ship e-waste to foreign dumps in the developing world. It is illegal for companies in the EU to export e-waste but not in the US. Many countries receive this e-waste but there are some places that have become infamous for it and developed large informal recycling operations.
Famously exposed to Western audiences back in 2002 by the Basel Action Network (BAN), Guiyu is a town in the Chaoyang district of Guangdong province. The town is the world’s largest e-waste dump. The informal recycling practices in the town have heavily polluted the soil, water and bodies of the residents. Children have notoriously high levels of lead in their bloodstreams, tens of times the WHO safe limit.
Several hundred thousand tons of e-waste flow into Nigeria’s largest port city of Lagos every year. Subsequent to the exposition of Guiyu to Western audiences, in 2005, BAN shed light on electronics recycling companies shipping e-waste to Nigeria under the guise of reuse. Most of the items coming into port were unusable and ended up dumped around Lagos neighborhoods.
Also situated in West Africa and located on the outskirts of the Ghanaian Capital, Accra, e-waste dumping at this site was the subject of new articles by major news outlets in the last year. Arguably overtaking Guiyu as the world’s biggest e-waste dumpsite, Agogbloshie’s local environment has been trashed, putting tens of thousands of peoples health at risk.
Responsible electronics recycling
Companies like GreenCitizen refuse to engage in the shipment of e-waste overseas until such a time as electronics recycling operations in those countries meet western environmental standards. GreenCitizen is attempting to shift the paradigm and build a model, sustainable, local electronics recycling ecosystem. Please do your part to make sure your e-waste is recycled locally and responsibly.