Report: Much E-Recycling Shipped Overseas
Programs to recycle obsolete electronics might not have the effect that most people had hoped. Electronic items that are supposedly being recycled with the environment in mind could actually be contributing to pollution overseas, the Associated Press reported last week.
Of the 300,000 to 400,000 tons of electronic items collected for recycling in the U.S. every year, an estimated 50 to 80 percent end up overseas, according to activists. Once the items are exported, workers in countries such as China, India and Nigeria reportedly use hammers, gas burners and even their bare hands to remove the recyclable materials while at the same time exposing themselves and the environment to an array of toxic materials, according to the activists quoted by the AP.
These electronics that are shipped abroad are largely gathered from free recycling drives normally organized around Earth Day in April. The places that hold these drives, usually schools, companies, cities and counties, often hire the least-expensive recycling firms and do not question where the items end up.