We feel virtuous when we send our electronics to be recycled rather than just dumping them, but what guarantees do we have that they’re actually disposed off responsibly? A report on SBS’ Dateline suggests that some Australian TVs and other unwanted goods are being illegally dumped in Ghana rather than carefully recycled.
The problem is worse than simply creating huge landfill areas; impoverished locals burn the wiring to extract copper which they can sell, creating massive plumes of toxic smoke which affect the health of everyone in the region. The estimated cost of fully recycling some TVs is estimated in the story to be north of $1,000, which explains why the illegal trade flourishes. The report also notes that while Customs has stopped 15 shipments of illegal e-waste from leaving the country, no-one has been charged. Clearly, it’s an area where more needs to be done.
Hit the link to watch the full story (or read a transcript if your office network blocks video).
E-Waste Hell [Dateline]