The Electronic Wasteland – Where electronics end up…

Computers & Mobile Craft & Design Energy & Sustainability

Horrible, gang – we need to work towards changing this… reuse and recycle locally, the video hits hard – “Where do the millions of computer monitors, cell phones and other electronic refuse our society generates end up? Scott Pelley reports.” 60 minutes & more.

60 Minutes is going to take you to one of the most toxic places on Earth – a place government officials and gangsters don’t want you to see. It’s a town in China where you can’t breathe the air or drink the water, a town where the blood of the children is laced with lead.

It’s worth risking a visit because much of the poison is coming out of the homes, schools and offices of America. This is a story about recycling – about how your best intentions to be green can be channeled into an underground sewer that flows from the United States and into the wasteland.

That wasteland is piled with the burning remains of some of the most expensive, sophisticated stuff that consumers crave. And 60 Minutes and correspondent Scott Pelley discovered that the gangs who run this place wanted to keep it a secret.

What are they hiding? The answer lies in the first law of the digital age: newer is better. In with the next thing, and out with the old TV, phone or computer. All of this becomes obsolete, electronic garbage called “e-waste.”

14 thoughts on “The Electronic Wasteland – Where electronics end up…

  1. Anonymous says:

    For those who live in Ottawa, Computer Recyclers promises that nothing you take to them will leave North America.

  2. Mike Y says:

    Interesting article. I’m sure the ‘gangsters’ and the mayor of the town are Communist party members; how else are they allowed to do what they do.

    It’s not for want of profit that they do this; it’s the lack of respect for life. They *can* recycle this stuff cheaper than we can and they could do it properly with some investment in equipment, but they choose not to do that.

    Better for a US or European firm to start a proper operation there. Better that than put these people out of work.

  3. The Oracle says:

    @Mike – What does the communist party have to do with “being allowed to do what they do”? Do you understand what the words you use mean?

    As far as the original article, it is really disgusting that they do this. But consider all the recent articles of Chinese food products containing Melamine and other toxic items *deliberately* added to save money even though it kills people. Compared to that, this environmental disaster is minor.

    The only solution is to stop buying Chinese goods, if it cuts into their bottom line they’ll fix it. That’s all they care about. To Mike again, this is much more capitalistic than communist, so again, what do you think you’re talking about?

    The problem is, most people can look at that video and they still wouldn’t pay $100 more for a made in America iPhone with proper disposal down the road.

  4. BigD145 says:

    No, Mike, this is Free Market Capitalism at its heart and US firms are fueling it and other places like it in a couple other continents.

  5. Phillip Torrone says:

    -one company can become the gold standard in the USA, the best and they’ll profit. it would be hard not to give them all the business.

    -DHL is going out of business in the USA, it’s too bad no one couldn’t swoop in and make them the best electronics recycler in the world, they have all the distribution. maybe warren buffet will get interested in something like this, he bought mouser. heck circuit city could be retooled to be a recycling center in each town…

    -higher prices on gadgets, there needs to be a gadget deposit — maybe $25 over the price that you get back / credit when you buy another device. we need people to be aware there are costs.

    -culturally encourage devices to be more special, able to be taken apart, upgraded. when they’re obsolete a way to give them to someone that will use them, reuse them or show folks how to do projects with older stuff.

    -take it apart ourselves, maybe it’s not a bad idea to actually strip electronics yourself – with proper training and workshops it could be fun too. not for everyone but there are enough alpha geeks to do take-apart nights.

    i’m not so in to new laws against business – in the video there were sting operations, laws, fines and systems in place… what we need now are incentives for good people to do the right thing and flourish.

  6. Matthew says:

    If you live in the Portland, OR area (or one of the many other places they have sites at), be sure to check out Free Geek ( They’re a not-for-profit company working to recycle and reuse computers and peripherals to help get small companies, organizations, and low-income peoples access to modern tech.

    They also list all the companies the use for scrap recycling, which are always very local and responsible. They will take both working, and non-working parts and systems.

  7. Jim K. says:

    With the increasing value of metals and the spiraling American economy, how long until we start seeing these kinds of operations here in the US? Perhaps when it happens in our own neighborhoods we’ll be forced to wake up and realize the environmental impact our gadget lust can create.

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