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EWASTE

December 23, 2011 Leave a comment

By Clint Dehnert

I have never considered myself and environmentalist or “tree huger” on any scale. But with today’s society it is impossible to not at least be aware of some of the environmental  issues. One issue in particular has stuck in my mind since I saw a show about ewaste a few years ago. We live in a day and age that things that are here today, can be gone tomorrow. Things are changing faster than we have ever seen in the history of the world. In my research for this subject, I found a quote by a reporter at the New York Times that sums it all up; There is no heaven for cellphones.”

The information that I am bringing up is all over Youtube and Greenpeace’s website. We have recently started the holiday shopping season and witnessed “Black Friday” “Small Business Saturday” and “Cyber Monday.” Most of the hot products are electronics like big screen TV’s, Smartphone’s, and the tablet.

Every holiday season around Thanksgiving time you see the new technology hit the shelves and airwaves. With this all in the back of your mind, I ask, what happens to the old TV? What happens to the old computer or laptop?

According to Urbanmining.org 41.1 million computers, 20 million TV’s, and 100 million cellphones are being replaced every year. Only 13% of these millions of electronics are recycled and disposed of properly. To put it bluntly, we are polluting our entire world with toxic chemicals with our insatiable appetite for the latest electronic technology.

Even the recycling centers are a business. To keep profits up, some are breaking the law. After the good, reusable components are reclaimed; they are sending it to the same places that it would have gone if you would not have recycled it at all.    

The examples are in Asia and Africa where policy and regulation is nonexistent or not enforced in some cases. What happens there is what is polluting the environment as well as killing fellow human beings. It is what is putting toxic chemicals in our food chain.

Things like lead, mercury, cadmium, and other toxic chemicals are making it into landfills here in the U.S. Some of the components that are recycled are being burned to claim the precious metals and making it into the air and water supply in other countries. All water eventually ends up in the ocean doesn’t it? The ocean supplies food for all over the world right?  Having to have the latest technology is putting toxic chemicals in your food, water, and the air you breathe.

With the almighty dollar driving our every move, I noticed something in my research that was not stated on any of the sites. On YouTube, I found videos about extracting the minimal amount of gold that is in a circuit board. These videos have been viewed by over 160,000 viewers. Some of the videos that show what this is doing to the environment have been viewed by only a couple thousand. This extraction process utilizes things like Nitric and Hydrochloric Acid.

In this process, you can see the vapors (nitrogen dioxide)  spewing from the container and making it into the open air, this cannot be good for the environment, and in the end, us. I find it ironic that the very products that are causing this “ewaste issue” are a necessity so we can further pollute the vital resources of our everyday life. We need a new computer so we can watch a YouTube video with better picture quality on how to claim gold out of our old computers! See a pattern?