Finding the information to support my previously mentioned rumor about computer “recycling” in China and the toxic side effects was not all that hard to find.
- 60 Minutes did a special on Following the Trail of Toxic E-Waste.
- Wikipedia (for what it’s worth) has information in it about improper disposal in countries like China, Malaysia, Kenya, and more.
- I’d take this with a grain of salt, but it is easy to conceive of people taking advantage of “free disposal” and turning it into a way to make money by taking advantage of the aforementioned countries.
- There has even been a presentation at TED on this.
My point here is to create some or more awareness. There are many sources that point to the great possibility that our recycled nasty bits of electronics do not end up cleanly disposed of. Worse, our thrown away nasty bits of electronics very likely pollute our environment. Much like how we should think about where our food comes from, we should think about where our toxic junk goes. Look up a place like BoxQ, but do your homework on where they send their stuff. Our effort in recycling toxic electronics goes beyond finding a place to do it, and includes understanding the whole process to make sure we aren’t paying to dispose of our items safely only to have them disposed of unsafely. From a consumer model, that’s a rip-off; from a responsibility model, that’s irresponsibility through laziness.
Now I get to put my money where my mouth is and do this research on BoxQ. I will certainly make another entry about those results. They make a lot of claims about responsibility of their disposal methods and not shipping overseas, but there are few actual details around what they mean by that. For example, it is important to determine if they hand over the components to refineries that responsibly handle the process; not doing so would invalidate their intentions.