Ewaste Dumping

Ewaste Dumping

The developed world has used primarily one method of dealing with this crisis-exporting their e-waste to less developed countries that are unable or unwilling to protect their citizens from the resulting harm to the ecology or public health. The minute quantities of reusable minerals contained within these electronic products have value only in places with paltry wages and where health codes for their extraction are nonexistent or not enforced. As a result, studies estimate that 50% to 80% of all e-waste amassed for "recycling" are shipped abroad to countries such as China, India, and Pakistan. Researchers found that approximately 13 million computer systems were channeled to recyclers in the United States during 2002, suggesting that up to 10 million of these units moved offshore to parts of Asia.
In response to the growing concern over how China will manage its increasing piles of waste electrical and electronic equipment (e-waste), central government departments have drafted a number of interrelated legislations. A national pilot program has also been initiated by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) to determine the most suitable model for a Chinese e-waste management system. The growing interest in the e-waste recycling business from the private sector is another indicator of the significant changes in store for China’s largely unregulated and environmentally unsound e-waste processing industry. The rationale behind these legislative and market developments is clear, driven by factors such as the environmental and health impacts of e-waste recycling and disposal, and the incentive of complying with international environmental standards. America discards thousands of tons of e-waste annually. Most of this e-waste consists of computers and electronic items. Computers and electronic equipment contain toxins. The toxins in computers aren’t harmful while the computer is intact. The problems start only after the computer is discarded and breaks apart, leeching its ingredients into the environment.
In China, e-waste is becoming an important waste stream, both in terms of quantity and toxicity. E-waste refers to discarded appliances, such as televisions and refrigerators, as well as a variety of associated waste products, such as electrical wiring, printed wiring boards (PWBs), and batteries. E-waste also contains a myriad of toxic components and materials that can cause significant damage to the environment and human health if recycling and disposal are unregulated.
China’s e-waste can be sourced both domestically produced and discarded products and imported waste. China is the destination for a substantial proportion of e-waste from developed countries, ostensibly exported to developing countries for ‘reutilization’. For example, representatives within the United States’ recycling industry have indicated that around 80% of the e-waste they receive is exported to Asia, and 90% of this goes to China (BAN et al., 2002). Although figures on the actual quantity of e-waste imports are unavailable, certain news reports in China claim that imports are an increasing problem, and have spread from Guangdong to Hunan, Zhejiang, Shanghai, Tianjin, Fujian, and Shangdong (for example. The People’s Daily, June 21, 2004).

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