Monthly Archives: October 2014

E-Waste

Ever wonder what happens to your old TVs or phones?

There are laws in Ireland and Europe which stop us from putting our electronic waste in landfill dumps

SO……..

Where does it go……….????

THE PROBLEM OF ELECTRONIC WASTE

(e-Waste)

Photos by Chien-Min Chung, Time Magazine

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The city of Guiyu, China is home to 5,500 businesses which process discarded electronics, known as e-waste.  The region dismantles 1.5 million pounds of dumped computers, cell phones, and other devices which are shipped there from countries around the world.

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Extraction – The e-waste is stripped for the lead, gold, copper and other metals that are found inside electronic devices.  In this photo, a worker heats a computer board on a steel surface to remove the computer chips soldered onto it.

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Pollution

Much of the waste from the work is dumped into the city’s streams and canals, poisoning the wells and groundwater.

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Over 80% of the dumped electronics are shipped from overseas, including from Ireland.  It is cheaper for us to ship the waste to cities like this in China than dispose of it at home.

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It is cheaper because the workers in China are not protected by unions or by the government.  They are paid very little and work long hours without any protective equipment.

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The e-waste business in Guiyu generates $75 million dollars for the town every year.

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Health reports from the region show that children living in Guiya suffer from high rates of lead poisoning.

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The city of Guiyu has the highest level of cancer causing dioxins in the world and an elevated rate of miscarriages.

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This worker hauls used phone casings on a tricycle.  Despite the dangers it presents, the e-waste business in Guiya continues to thrive.

What can you do?

REDUCE your consumption of electronic products

– can you survive without the latest gadget?

REPAIR electronic goods rather than buying new ones

RECYCLE –send e-waste to registered recycling plants where they will be disposed of properly

RE-USE – Donate your used goods to a friend, family member or charity (such as CAMARA which has refurbished 55,000 computers since 2005)