Your Old Computer Ends Up in China

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Adam's Apple, Apr 10, 2006.

  1. Adam's Apple

    Adam's Apple Senior Member

    Apr 25, 2004
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    Should have figured this one out, I guess.

    World's Discarded Computers Land in China's Digital Scrap Heap
    By Tim Johnson, Knight Ridder Newspapers
    April 5, 2006

    GUIYU, China - When discarded computers vanish from desktops around the world, they often end up in Guiyu, which may be the electronic-waste capital of the globe.

    The city is a sprawling computer slaughterhouse. Instead of offal and blood, its runoff includes toxic metals and acids. Some 60,000 laborers toil here at primitive e-waste recycling - if it can be called that - even as the work imperils their health.

    Computer carcasses line the streets, awaiting dismemberment. Circuit boards and hard drives lie in huge mounds. At thousands of workshops, laborers shred and grind plastic casings into particles, snip cables and pry chips from circuit boards. Workers pass the boards through red-hot kilns or acid baths to dissolve lead, silver and other metals from the digital detritus. The acrid smell of burning solder and melting plastic fills the air.

    "I don't think this is recycling," said Wu Song, an environmental activist from nearby Shantou University. "They ignore the environment."

    What occurs is more akin to e-waste scavenging. Though China bans imports of electronic waste, its factories clamor for raw materials, even those yanked from the guts of discarded computers, and ill-informed workers seek out computer-recycling jobs. So the ban is ignored, and the waste comes in torrents. Under the guise of "recycling," U.S. e-waste brokers ship discarded computers and dump an environmental problem on China.

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