GPS Tracks Failing Efforts at E-Waste Reduction

GPS Tracks Failing Efforts at E-Waste Reduction
The exposé, written by Elizabeth Grossman and published at The Intercept, reports nearly one-third of our e-waste is being exported to developing countries.

Following a two-year investigation into electronics recycling, GPS tracking of discarded devices has shown efforts aimed at reducing toxic e-waste have been unsuccessful.

Following a two-year investigation into electronics recycling, GPS tracking of discarded devices has shown efforts aimed at reducing toxic e-waste have been unsuccessful. The exposé, written by Elizabeth Grossman and published at The Intercept, reports nearly one-third of our e-waste is being exported to developing countries. There workers—often children—dismantle the equipment in manners perhaps dangerous to workers and their environment. If not disposed of properly, e-waste can release numerous toxins during the dismantling process. Heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and cadmium; and chemicals such as brominated flame retardants and dioxins are common threats. Numerous studies confirm these toxins are contributing to the contamination of waterways and global air pollution. In some dismantling environments, this e-waste has led to high levels of toxic exposure.

BAN (Basel Action Network), a Seattle-based nonprofit intent upon ending the trade in toxic waste, raises visibility as well as concerns about the U.S. government’s policies concerning the disposal of electronics. BAN initiated its own covert tracking operation after becoming frustrated by the government’s supply of data. Seeding public drop-off sites with GPS-enabled devices, they were able to track transportation practices of more than a dozen states between July 1, 2014, and December 31, 2015.

“What we found out is that quite a large percentage of this equipment is flowing offshore,” said Puckett. “These are like little lie detectors that we put out there. They tell their story and they tell it dispassionately.”

Most of the tracked devices went to Hong Kong, but others were tracked to China, Taiwan, Pakistan, Mexico, Thailand, Cambodia, Kenya, and others.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s most recent estimate, the U.S. is responsible for approximately 3.14 million tons of e-waste annually; about 40 percent of which is recycled. BAN extrapolates these numbers and estimates the U.S. is exporting between 314,000 and 376,800 tons of e-waste annually — or 43 to 52 container loads daily.

Click to read the full article: GPS TRACKING DEVICES CATCH MAJOR U.S. RECYCLERS EXPORTING TOXIC E-WASTE

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