Did you happen to catch the episode on Electronics Recycling on 60 Minutes on Sunday, November 9th? This story by correspondent Scott Pelley is about how your best intentions to be green can cause electronic waste to be channeled into an underground sewer that flows from the United States and into third world countries.
As it turns out, there are some so-called "recyclers" out there that instead of recycling electronics responsibly, they send electronic waste – specifically monitors overseas, instead of recycling responsibly domestically. It is illegal to export used monitors overseas without a special permission. Computer monitors contain toxins that must be handled properly. Yet 60 Minutes found these illegally retrieved monitors were thrown into acres of land outside Hong Kong. To make matters worse, these monitors were being broken down by peasants without the proper tools or protection to do so.
Jim Puckett of the Basel Action Network (BAN) said, "Women were heating circuit boards over a coal fire, pulling out chips and pouring off the lead solder. the town. " Furthermore, Scientists have studied the area and discovered that the town has the highest levels of cancer-causing dioxins in the world. They found pregnancies are six times more likely to end in miscarriage, and that seven out of ten kids have too much lead in their blood.
These unscrupulous recyclers need to be stopped and put out of business! They are responsible for polluting the very same environment which they claim to save.
So, does this mean that we stop recycling? Of course not! What we have to do is be more careful with what we recycle. Is the recycler reputable and will they be responsible? Here are some tips on choosing your next recycler:
* Look into their management team – if they began their carers in the garbage business or in the used electronics business then you can be certain that they have little regard for globally beneficial recycling methods.
* Do they have a "no land fill" policy?
Do they certify that all components will be re-used and will comply with all local, state and federal guidelines? What certifications do they offer?
* Do they have a complete audit trail?
If required; can they produce a document outlining the "chain of custody" of your electronics?
* Can they offer government references?
Have they been able to successfully handle government electronics and data destruction needs?
Even though there are unscrupulous recyclers out there, that does not mean that they are all bad. Do your homework, continue to recycle responsibly and do your share. Mother Nature will thank you!