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stringtheory
Big Business, Regulation and Environment, Health and Safety
January 29, 2013 at 10:54 PM

I encourage all to watch the video, a bit over seven minutes. Kid friendly (unless you censor environmentalism) and well-paced. I tried to find a good article that tied it together as well as this, but couldn't.

Now, after watching the video, what do you think of regulations like the "take back" concept? If you upgrade your gadgets and electronics every year, does watching this make you consider changing that? Are the problems caused by 'made for the dump' bad enough for government regulation, or can we as consumers influence that at all (keeping in mind that gadgets are purposely designed to not only be out-dated, but not even last very long)?

Replies

  • Veni.Vidi.Vici.
    January 29, 2013 at 11:35 PM

    Okay, I'm only 2 minutes into this and I feel like this is made for people wo should NEVER be challenged mentally.

  • Veni.Vidi.Vici.
    January 29, 2013 at 11:47 PM

    I love the take it back concept. As a family rule we try to donate as many electronics as possible once we're finished and/or make sure they're disposed of properly. Including batteries. Beyond doing my part I'm at a loss as what to do to encourage more electronics companies to be more responsible for their designs, as well as encouraging companies to remind consumers how to properly dispose of the item when it's obsolete.

  • stringtheory
    January 30, 2013 at 1:05 AM
    I think part of the problem is that even "proper disposal" just ends up overseas putting workers at risk stripping metals out covered in hazmat. What this campaign is aiming at is a "cradle to grave" concept that rests with the manufaturer...if they have to spend the money to properlyAND SAFELY dispose of their product (and prove it to regulators), then developers would be encouraged to make greener electronics that last longer.

    Quoting Veni.Vidi.Vici.:

    I love the take it back concept. As a family rule we try to donate as many electronics as possible once we're finished and/or make sure they're disposed of properly. Including batteries. Beyond doing my part I'm at a loss as what to do to encourage more electronics companies to be more responsible for their designs, as well as encouraging companies to remind consumers how to properly dispose of the item when it's obsolete.

  • Clairwil
    January 30, 2013 at 2:54 AM

    The politics of e-waste

    A cadmium lining

    Growing mounds of electronic scrap can mean profits or scandals

    POOR countries have long been a popular destination for the rich world’s toxic trash. In 1987 an Italian importer sparked international outrage by dumping 8,000 leaky barrels in the Nigerian village of Koko. On January 9th Nigeria fined importers $1m for trying to bring in two 12-metre containers full of defunct televisions, computers, microwaves and stereos, aboard a ship from Tilbury in Britain—the fifth such incident in three years.

    Waste consisting of dead electronic goods, or e-waste, is growing at three times the rate of other kinds of rubbish, fuelled by gadgets’ diminishing lifespan and the appetite for consumer electronics among the developing world’s burgeoning middle classes. In 1998 America discarded 20m computers; by 2009 that number had climbed to 47.4m. China alone retired 160m appliances in 2011, 40% of America’s haul. A 2011 report by Pike Research, a consultancy, estimates that the volume and weight of global e-scrap will more than double in the next 15 years.

    International efforts to regulate the trade in waste revolve around the Basel Convention, passed in 1989 following the Koko row. It aims to stop the rich world dumping its harmful detritus in poor countries. But e-waste is not just poisonous: it contains precious metals, too. Processors, chips and connecting pins (known as “gold fingers”) contain seams of silver, gold and palladium; these “deposits” are 40 to 50 times richer than dug-up ores, according to a study conducted by the United Nations University. Other less valuable and more troubling lodes for “urban miners” include cadmium, lead and mercury.

    High-tech recyclers—such as Umicore in Belgium and Xstrata in Canada—can recover up to 95% of the metal using furnaces and solvents. But dirtier methods are cheaper. In the Guiyu area of southern China 100,000 people work in e-waste recycling. It is “ground zero for the e-waste trade,” says Jim Puckett of the Basel Action Network, a green group. Standard practice is to separate the plastic by boiling circuit boards on stoves, and then leach the metals with acid. Workers risk burns, inhaling fumes and poisoning from lead and other carcinogens. A study by the nearby Shantou University found high miscarriage rates in local women.

    So far, manufacturers are doing little to make their products easy to dismantle and recycle cleanly. Mr Puckett and his allies want a blanket ban on e-waste shipping to stop the West “exporting harm”. The Basel signatories took a big step in October 2011 towards a general ban on the export of hazardous waste—which would include electronic scrap. But poorer countries already produce a quarter of the world’s e-waste pile; they could overtake rich ones as early as 2018. Choking off the trade will not stop the acid cauldrons bubbling.

    Adam Minter, a Shanghai-based journalist and author of a forthcoming book, “Junkyard Planet”, says that China’s wages and location give it a comparative advantage. “It’s no accident that Guiyu is so close to where iPads are being made,” he says. Feng Wang, an e-waste expert at the UN University, notes that the authorities in Guiyu are supporting safer, high-tech recycling plants. Mr Minter says other recyclers there have been using heated centrifuges to dislodge the valuable bits from circuit boards; they have charcoal filters to absorb the fumes. Guiyu would not meet Western health and safety standards, but, he says, “it’s progressed from the medieval era to the 1970s.”

    Those endorsements ring hollow for Mr Puckett. He cites the dearth in developing countries of enforceable safety rules, health care for workers and courts to redress grievances when things go wrong. While poor countries lack these arrangements, he says, rich countries should not send them e-waste. And many countries do not recycle at all: most televisions and computers that end up in Nigeria are dumped. Nigeria’s parliament is currently considering a bill to prohibit traffic in e-waste altogether. The Chinese may be cheering for that.

  • Clairwil
    January 30, 2013 at 2:55 AM

    See (source) for pictures.

  • Veni.Vidi.Vici.
    January 30, 2013 at 10:34 AM

    bump


  • lizzielouaf
    January 30, 2013 at 10:45 AM
    When my oldest was in 9th grade he started making noise about wanting a car, I told him he better get a job lol. So he started a computer recycling business. People would drop off their computers and he would do something, idk what, to wipe the hard drive for them and they'd leave it. He would strip down the parts, resell some parts, remove the gold (yes gold) and build cheap computers for either resale or donations. He bought himself a 3 year old Jeep when he was in the 11th grade. There can be a lot of money in recycling!

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