E-waste Article in the New York Times

Julie Slavet
Aug 10, 2009

Here’s an interesting e-waste article from the New York Times. This one focuses mostly on the confusing patchwork of state laws regarding e-waste. Exactly whose responsibility is it? State governments? The federal government? Electronics manufacturers? Electronics consumers?

From the article:

The E.P.A. estimates that 2.6 million tons of electronic waste were dropped into landfills in 2007, the most recent year for which data is available. Once buried, the waste leaches poisons and heavy metals into soil and groundwater.

Recycling programs do not address the problem of electronics that are already leaching poison in landfills. Nor do they prevent the frequent shipment of plastic shells covered with chemical flame retardants overseas to poor and developing nations; once there, they are often incinerated, because they cannot be reused, and spew toxic chemicals into the air.

The Office of the Inspector General at the Justice Department has a continuing investigation into accusations that several federal prisons with electronics recycling contracts had used inmates to do the work without taking adequate safety precautions, exposing them to unhealthy levels of airborne particles.

Ultimately, said Ms. Kyle, coordinator of the Electronics TakeBack Coalition, recycling does not eliminate the root problem: the vast amount of electronics generated in the first place and fated for disposal.

Read the whole article here.

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