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Archive for November 19th, 2007

RECYCLED ELECTONICS EXPOSE OVERSEAS WORKERS TO A COCKTAIL OF TOXIC CHEMICALS

Posted in Eco Thugs, News Brief, Toxic Products on November 19th, 2007

WORKERS IN COUNTRIES SUCH AS CHINA, INDIA AND NIGERIA USE HAMMERS, GAS BURNERS AND THEIR BARE HANDS TO EXTRACT METALS, GLASS AND OTHER RECYCLABLES

a5bb51c7288bc1d456e1d7aaf6f05e181.jpgEditors Note! While I must confess to occasionally wondering where those outdated cell phones, computers and other digital marvels wound up after I dropped them off at the recycling center, like most people, it was not something I lost a lot of sleep over. Hey, I did my part recycling these items rather than merely throwing them in the trash. Now it was someone else’s problem.

Had I cared enough to think about it, and cared is the operating word in this sentence, I would have known that the work was being outsourced, more than likely to some economically depressed part of the world where labor is cheap and regulation non-existent. No problem with little issues like health and safety in these parts of the world.

Perhaps the way to properly approach the recycling issue would be to make the companies who generate billions of dollars designing, manufacturing and selling these products responsible for their recycling.

If this were the case, I am sure that the recycling process would become safe and simple and that many of toxic ingredients utilized today would be replaced with items far more benign to both the earth and her inhabitants.

It is time that we as a society face up to the reality that there are not enough far off places left on this planet to store all of the junk that we generate, nor should we expect to continue to rely on world’s poor to do our bidding without concern for their own well-being.

Recycling is more than global warming. It is time that we wake up to that fact.

- LIB

Most Americans think they’re helping the earth when they recycle their old computers, televisions and cell phones. But chances are they’re contributing to a global trade in electronic trash that endangers workers and pollutes the environment overseas.

While there are no precise figures, activists estimate that 50 to 80 percent of the 300,000 to 400,000 tons of electronics collected for recycling in the U.S. each year ends up overseas. Workers in countries such as China, India and Nigeria then use hammers, gas burners and their bare hands to extract metals, glass and other recyclables, exposing themselves and the environment to a cocktail of toxic chemicals.

“It is being recycled, but it’s being recycled in the most horrific way you can imagine,” said Jim Puckett of the Basel Action Network, the Seattle-based environmental group that tipped off Hong Kong authorities. “We’re preserving our own environment, but contaminating the rest of the world.”

MORE….

Source: Associated Press

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