Ghana: Digital Dumping Ground (1 of 2)





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Published on Jun 25, 2009

Corporate socialism = maximize profit, socialize risk.

"Had President Obama seen the e-waste dump in Accra, Ghana, I am sure he would have been emotionally affected as he was during his visit to Cape Coast Castle."


PBS.org ..."hundreds of thousands of tons of American e-waste makes its way into China, despite laws intended to stop it."

PBS documentary: Ghana, Digital Dumping Ground

"Just a few miles from Hong Kongs port, hidden behind eight-foot-high corrugated walls, are mountains of computer monitors, printer cartridges from Georgia, relics of old video arcades

In China, e-waste has become big business.

The southern Chinese city of Guiyu has been completely built around the e-waste trade. Miles and miles of nothing but old electronics.

Jim Puckett is an environmental activist credited with discovering this harmful e-waste route to China. He has accompanied the team to Guiyu, a place he first visited eight years ago, and calls it the dirty little secret of the hi-tech industry.

Video Puckett shot in 2001 was the first anyone had documented showing Western computers being dumped in Guiyu. He found tens of thousands of people working here in the toxic trade. On this return visit, Puckett says things have gotten worse.

I was there first in 2001 and it was shocking enough then. It had gone from very bad to really horrific. And what is happening there is rather apocalyptic.

One of the most disturbing things Puckett points out is happening behind closed doors. Women literally cooking circuit boards to salvage the computer chips, which have trace amounts of gold.

All these old mother boards and other types of circuit boards are being cooked day in and day out, mostly by women, sitting there, breathing the lead tin solders. Its just quite devastating, Puckett says.

To find out who is making money off this hazardous work, the team travels to downtown Hong Kong, home to hundreds of companies that import e-waste into China. No one here will speak to the reporters on camera, so they film surreptitiously.

Puckett and one of our reporters arrange to meet an e-waste broker willing to explain the e-waste trade from the inside.

The man explains how hundreds of thousands of tons of American e-waste makes its way into China, despite laws intended to stop it.

If we were to send you our material, would our recyclers get in trouble with the Chinese government if they find their material coming into mainland? Puckett asks the broker.

I can only say that if they get caught it has nothing to do with you. Because I buy from you, and then I sell to him. He is buying from me; he's not buying from you, the man explains.

He says that since Hong Kong ships millions of containers to the U.S. and most return empty, it's cheap to load them with e-waste, and too expensive to dispose of the waste safely -- no matter what recyclers claim.

...Even if you have a state-of-the-art facility in a country like India, the free market there will send it to the lowest common denominator, to the worst facilities where people are sitting on the streets just picking through it by hand, he says. Its a myth to think that you can just solve the problem immediately with technology alone.""



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