Waste and Tech — Blog Action Day 2010

A few days ago, a relative of mine bought a new smartphone from a carrier. The carrier supplied free accessories, such as a charger made in china. The charger consequently stopped working after a few uses and is sitting in a drawer somewhere. My relative will most likely turn in the charger during a free electronics event. We would imagine that the turned in electronics would be transferred to a facility where experts would carefully take apart these doodads and extract their innards to be used towards new product, right?
Wrong. While these waste disposal programs are organized with samaritanian intentions in mind, they often get shipped to shoddy recyclers and transported overseas. Once over seas, these electronics can be distributed by a “recycling” company to adults and children with little income of disassemble. As documented on WebEcoist and other news sites, these electronics are picked apart in hazardous work conditions — you can’t even call these places working spaces!

china electronics recycling

Last year, there was an interview with a wealthy owner of a ship salvaging company located in India. The worker would work without safety equipment of any kind. They would hack at propeller with rust drifting about in the air and melt down metals over flame without masks or gloves. Minor precautions would not costed much, less than $10 would have given the workers gloves of considerable shielding; the owner mentioned that one propeller from a trawler would fetch a few thousand. Yet, when asked if he could provide protection for his workers, he exclaimed that the business would go bankrupt!

beached ship
Those who are looking to get their unused debris out the closet need to look further than the free recycling flyer. It’s best to find out who the recycler is and where the waste is shipped. If you cannot find a reputable free recycler, paying a small fee to recycle your electronic is good for everyone. Don’t throw your trash in the garbage, either, it’ll be tossed into a landfill or ocean and leak acidic fluids into the water supply.

plastic trash in ocean

You can take action by recycling your unneeded waste responsibly, check the receiver of the electronics and take note of the handling of the material. There are plenty of ways to reuse material, you can create art of out them, repair them, or use them for something practical — a paper holder or coat hanger, maybe? There are countless possibilities.

Be sure to check out Blog Action Day to read other posts concerning the world.

Other great sources:

Basel Action Network – A global watchdog turning back the tide on toxic waste.

TreeHugger – A media outlet dedicated to sustainability.

WebEcoist – Natural wondered and environmental awareness all rolled in one.

Anson Liu