As electronic designs has been risen last 30 years, e-waste problem has emerged. U.N Environmental Department warns that waste generated by electronic products and components pose major environmental and health hazards to the world in general and in particular to the world’s developing nations. Richer nations are already using developing countries as dumping grounds for their e-waste. This e-waste problem will only grow as continued development spurs sales of electronic devices in these poorer countries. The report indicates that communication devices such as cell phones and pagers are responsible for the fastest growth in electronic waste. Obsolete computer and refrigerator components are also major contributors to the problem.
The U.N. report calls for the regulation of collection and management of electronic waste. Developing nations such as China and India, which currently perform inefficient and unregulated recycling of electronic waste leading to hazardous conditions for their populations, will need to come up with systems of e-waste regulation. Of particular concern is that although the waste from electrical products represents only a small percentage of the world’s total waste, the toxicity of its components generate more dangerous pollution than the larger mass of traditional waste in landfills.
Guiyu is the largest electronic waste (e-waste) site on Earth, according to Wikipedia. Since late 1980s a lot of e-waste from overseas has been imported to China and dismantled at Guiyu.
The state-run newspaper the Peoples Daily said in 2006 that Guiyus more than 5,500 e-waste business employed over 30,000 people.
According to the local goverment Web site, city businesses process 1,5 million tons of e-waste a year, pulling in $75 million in revenue. As much as 80 percent of it comes from overseas.
It’s as much as 10 times cheaper to export the waste to developing countries for the United States, as safety rules skyrocket domestic disposal costs, says the U.S. Enviromental Protection Agency.
Americans scrap 400 million electronic products per year, and generated 2.6 million tons of e-waste in 2005.
U.N E-waste Form report
GOOD Magazine: E-Waste