In a recent investigation by Basel Action Network and MIT revealed that a shocking 40% of E-Waist in the united states goes straight to another country to whole sale land fills instead of being properly disposed of.
This investigation attached GPS trackers to electronics that were then dropped of at over 150 different recycles. of those 150 trackers 40% ended up in landfills in china or other developing countries in Africa and Asia.
This revelation is shocking many in the tech world because as most of you know, electronic recycling is rarely free because of the toxic materials and labor involved in tearing the components down. Tube displays have a toxic mix of chemicals that can be devastating to the local environment if they are not disposed of correctly such as lead, cadmium, barium, and fluorescent powders. Some states even incentivise these recyclers with tax dollars to help offset the cost of recycling.
To give you an idea of what these electronics are worth and why in many cases it is not worth the labor we found a price sheet from Peony Online Services.
Here are the findings as reported by Motherboard,
- Real, environmentally sustainable electronics recycling can be profitable only if recycling companies charge a fee to take on old machines; the sale of recycled materials rarely if ever covers the actual cost of recycling in the United States.
- Companies, governments, and other organizations have a requirement to recycle old machines; because there is little oversight or enforcement, a secondary industry of fake recyclers has popped up to undercut sustainable recyclers. These “recyclers,” which advertise themselves as green and sustainable, get paid pennies per pound to take in old TVs, computers, printers, and monitors. Rather than recycle them domestically, the recycling companies sell them to junkyards in developing nations, either through middlemen or directly.
- These foreign junkyards hire low-wage employees to pick through the few valuable components of often toxic old machines. The toxic machines are then left in the scrapyards or dumped nearby.
- Using GPS trackers, industry watchdog Basel Action Network found that 40 percent of electronics recyclers it tested in the United States fall into this “scam recycling” category.
Clearly something has to change in this industry as more and more of the CRT displays are being decommissioned and sent to be recycled.