Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Report is Critical of US For Dumping E-Waste Overseas

samzenpus posted about 6 years ago | from the not-in-my-backyard dept.

United States 152

coondoggie writes "In what may be the least astonishing news of the day, some major US companies who say they are environmentally recycling electronic waste — aren't. Rather more startling — they are dumping everything from cell phones and old computers to televisions in countries such as China and India where disposal practices are unsafe to people and dangerous to the environment. Controlling the exportation of all of the e-waste plops on the doorstep of the US Environmental Protection Agency which is doing a woeful job, according to a scathing 67-page report issued by the Government Accountability Office today."

cancel ×

152 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

astonishing? (0, Offtopic)

retech (1228598) | about 6 years ago | (#25051375)

This would only be astonishing to those people same people who believe the elections aren't rigged and that cars would fly by 2k.

Other countries to blame (0, Troll)

LaskoVortex (1153471) | about 6 years ago | (#25051379)

What are the other countries doing accepting the waste? USA shouldn't be responsible for other countries' not acting responsibly.

Re:Other countries to blame (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25051435)

The I'm-not-the-only-one-who-does-it excuse is just a shame.

Re:Other countries to blame (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25052847)

Learn to read, idiot.The question was why the hell are these countries accepting this shit? Are they fucking stupid? Just because someone tries to send you something doesn't mean you have to take it.

Re:Other countries to blame (1)

DaveDerrick (1070132) | about 6 years ago | (#25052949)

Learn to read BETWEEN THE LINES, idiot. USA is rich, Africa is poor & being exploited. Figure it out for yourself & dont expect everything spelt out for you.

Re:Other countries to blame (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25053193)

Those poor ignorant negroes, always being exploited by the man. Good thing there be good people like you to whine on forums about how they need to be protected.

Re:Other countries to blame (2, Interesting)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 6 years ago | (#25053255)

"Learn to read, idiot.The question was why the hell are these countries accepting this shit? Are they fucking stupid? Just because someone tries to send you something doesn't mean you have to take it."

Perhaps China is seeing this as a new, and novel way to help control their (over)population?

Re:Other countries to blame (5, Informative)

palemantle (1007299) | about 6 years ago | (#25051439)

It isn't countries per se that are involved in importing used electronics and taking them apart in an unsafe manner. Rather, it is a bunch of brokers and recyclers.

From the report:
State-of-the-art facilities that can safely dismantle CRTs and other electronic gadgets:
1 Umicore (Belgium)
2 Samsung Corning (Malaysia)

Unsafe dismantling/recycling goes on largely in South-east Asia and parts of West Africa. The following countries are mentioned:
- Cambodia
- China
- India
- Indonesia
- Nigeria
- Senegal

Re:Other countries to blame (3, Insightful)

MrMr (219533) | about 6 years ago | (#25051793)

So we see countries competing on price of their environment. I understand that one may have ethical problems with the effects, but isn't the current capitalist dogma that corporations must behave unethically if that improves the short term stock price?

Re:Other countries to blame (2, Informative)

foobsr (693224) | about 6 years ago | (#25051849)

So we see countries competing on price of their environment.

Their? [slashdot.org]

If you wait long enough (centuries, if necessary), this turns into 'ours' quite suddenly.

CC.

Re:Other countries to blame (3, Informative)

kaos07 (1113443) | about 6 years ago | (#25052621)

Not only "capitalist dogma" but the obligation to shareholders and stock price is a legal one.

Re:Other countries to blame (3, Insightful)

Kharny (239931) | about 6 years ago | (#25053313)

No freaking way.
There is no obligation to shareholders whatsoever apart from the "you can get voted of the board" one.

Many companies have made decisions to not go for pure maximum cash, but take other things into concideration as well.

Re:Other countries to blame (2, Informative)

kaos07 (1113443) | about 6 years ago | (#25053473)

Yeah, but shareholders can and have successfully argued that management did not put their priorities, as owners, high enough - receiving compensation. Not only is that a right enshrined in law, common law has tested it quite a few times.

Re:Other countries to blame (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25053149)

"isn't the current capitalist dogma that corporations must behave unethically if that improves the short term stock price?"

I believe this is more the domain of the misinformed. Maybe you should go back to ideology school, and listen to a lecturer who actually is a capitalist, rather than go to the "Capitalism As Interpreted By Marxists" ones?

"Capitalism" as an ideology is quite like "socialism" as an ideology - it is immensely broad. Socialism does in my view not provide a clear answer to e.g. "Should we have a United Nations", and neither does Capitalism. You will naturally find people who profess to be either Capitalists or Socialists (without being strongly challenged as being something else) and who profess views on that, in either direction.

To take it to the extreme you take it is like saying "Patriotism involves placing a high value on your country, ipso facto patriots say that you should kill and dissect ten million children in poor countries and make the organs into an organ bank for the leaders of your own country. Not to do so is not patriotic." Exaggeration and hyperbole does not make for a good discussion.

On the specific subject - like Patriotism does not say anything about dissecting babies, Capitalism does not say anything about behaving unethically. Google is not behaving "uncapitalistically" for failing to sell person tracking services in every country where the law allows them to - they have simply chosen not to do it. Another element which the discussion here has failed to touch on - if people work in hazardous ways to dismantle electronics and ships, it's probably because they would not afford food or clothing for themself and their families otherwise. Which has to do with a lot of issues again, population size being one of them.

Re:Other countries to blame (4, Insightful)

Koiu Lpoi (632570) | about 6 years ago | (#25051451)

You mean taking advantage of a situation removes all blame from you? You really think the US companies are dumping this waste without knowing full well what will happen to it? I doubt it.

Then again, we could have another Mattel-lead-paint situation, where they got it done for cheap overseas, without fully looking in to how bad the situation really was.

Re:Other countries to blame (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25051457)

I can't speak for other countries, or even other provinces, but Alberta, Canada, adds a tax on to all major electronic devices (Laptops, desktops), which covers their recycling at the end of the product's life.

I am not testifying as to how good these programs work though, as I've never seen them in action.

Re:Other countries to blame (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25051517)

What do you mean "covers" their recycling? Recycling pays back money, otherwise they'd dump the stuff in the middle of the ocean instead of going all the way to China.

Re:Other countries to blame (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25051609)

Recycling pays back money, otherwise they'd dump the stuff in the middle of the ocean instead of going all the way to China.

Sure it pays back money. If you're recycling something that is rich enough in certain materials. Otherwise it isn't worth it in many cases.

Now of course if it isn't cost efficient for you to recycle something, then it may well be that someone in a country where people work for pennies an hour and there are no meddlesome regulators can make a profit off of the recycling process.

So you sell the junk to them and they recycle it. You make money, they make money, the workers even make some money. A win, win situation for all. Unless you want to get all picky and start complaining about the health of the workers and possible environmental damage.

Re:Other countries to blame (3, Insightful)

fabs64 (657132) | about 6 years ago | (#25051459)

The US should however be responsible for the regulation of their own companies, ensuring that those companies correctly follow the law of their own country, and ensuring that those same companies do not attempt to deceive the general public.

Re:Other countries to blame (2, Interesting)

Psychotria (953670) | about 6 years ago | (#25051583)

That sounds great. Last I heard the US was not Utopia though. US (and other countries companies) will continue to attempt extracting water from stone and pushing the limits of what they can get away with. As my boss said to me once: "Don't worry what's 'right', this is the way it's done.

Despite this I agree with you; I am becoming a cynic as I age. Although, depsite being a cynic, I can still *personally* choose to choose right from wrong.

Re:Other countries to blame (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25051483)

Because they make profit $$$. They strip the parts down and sell them back.

Re:Other countries to blame (5, Insightful)

MrBigInThePants (624986) | about 6 years ago | (#25051497)

Nice try.

Its the USA's waste, it is ultimately the USA's hands that are dirty. (metaphorically of course, the poor B'Stards that get trash dumped on their doorstep are obviously going to have dirty hands literally)

This is yet another example of green washing and corporates (in this case US ones) flushing our environment down the toilet for their own short term gain.

However, it is not just the US that engages in this crap. Lots of others do also! Even here in "green NZ", there are instances of "recycling" companies shipping recycling overseas to the more dodgy chinese outlets.
disclaimer: it appears that the majority of ours do the right thing however. (One retail chain even does it FOR FREE! Not to mention E-day www.eday.org.nz )

And these filthy buggers will moan and complain when regulation is forced upon them to stop being little piglets. Sheesh.

Makes one really feel sorry for mother nature to be honest.

Re:Other countries to blame (2, Insightful)

foobsr (693224) | about 6 years ago | (#25051931)

Makes one really feel sorry for mother nature to be honest.

On principle, I am with you. However, you may adopt the view that it is probably not a big problem for the planet to survive a couple of million years of bad influence from humanity.

CC.

Re:Other countries to blame (2, Interesting)

MrBigInThePants (624986) | about 6 years ago | (#25052187)

You may also realise that WE may not be around to enjoy it in a few centuries.
I am 100% sure the planet/universe will be around for a long time to come.

Re:Other countries to blame (5, Interesting)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 6 years ago | (#25052035)

"This is yet another example of green washing and corporates (in this case US ones) flushing our environment down the toilet for their own short term gain."

Yes. The west has cleaned up it's act over the last few decades but the illusion breaks down when you realise much of that has been achived by throwing it over an international fence. In general the EU/AU/NZ have slightly better laws to deal with this kind of thing. What I find strange about the US is there seems to be a much larger proportion of the general population who are outright hostile to environmentalists. These people (and we have them here in Oz aswell - so untwist those patriotic nickers), also seem to rant about "UN totalitairianisim", "intellectual elitisim" and "freedom".

Personally I want to restict the the "freedom" to pillage and plunder, not because I grew up in the 60-70's (when totalitarians really were a big problem), but because I grew up surrounded by farms and can appreciate where our food comes from. The farms and surrounding bush have all but dissapeared under the sprawling suburbs of a city famous the world over for looking green from the window of a passanger jet.

I selfishly want enough arable land with a stable enough climate to feed myself, my kids, and from March next year my grandkid(s). I want my offspring to experience and appreciate both the benifits of the industrial revolution AND the awesome natural wonders in this country and elsewhere. Pretending we are green by denying we are both culpable in, and affected by, (say) West Papua [youtube.com] or the Amazon [youtube.com] is the height of "elitisim" that will come back to bite EVERYONE on the arse and hard!

I understand the world is a messy place and there is always a trade-off, but I think the "freedom" to blatantly pillage and plunder are "rights" that should be denied to all players in a globalised economy, those "rights" are as distastefull to me as the "freedom" to trade slaves.

So come on and hit me without hiding behind an anonymous troll, who thinks enviromentalists are the scum of the earth and why?

Re:Other countries to blame (2, Informative)

MrBigInThePants (624986) | about 6 years ago | (#25052231)

I should add that my comments on "doing the right thing" were ONLY for recycling efforts. Most NZ companies throw out the trash randomly like everybody else in the world.

The main point was about greenwashing and fake-recycling.

Heard an interesting speaker recently on developing products from cradle to cradle and near 100% recycling. I believe they are starting the initiatives in Sweden. (god I love Sweden...)
ref:
http://greenhome.huddler.com/wiki/cradle-to-cradle-design [huddler.com]

One of his main comments was on how future generations will look down on our era as a sockingly wasteful society. Sort of how we look down on medievil times and their beliefs and way of life.

Re:Other countries to blame (2, Interesting)

smoker2 (750216) | about 6 years ago | (#25052389)

I'm not going to disagree. But I'll add that it's ironic that the west decries and bemoans the lack of human rights in these "slave" countries, but then actively participates in the denial of those rights.
It is a human right to have clean water and not be poisoned by toxic chemicals, especially by those that are specifically manufactured for human use. It's just two faced to complain about Chinas human rights record and then deliberately use them to a) produce shit cheaply (keeping the labourers poor) and b) export the waste back to them to suffer the consequences of that cheapness.
And because they are poor they have no option other than "thank you sir, may I have another". Colour me disgusted.
There is such a thing as moral leadership.
Thankfully, this situation cannot continue for much longer, as we are running out of places to relocate our dirty habits to. As the third world gets more of our business, they also get more of our money, and then they start demanding their rights. So we move to less demanding countries. That list of alternatives is dwindling, so IMHO, we ought to be biting the bullet now, and cleaning up our act before we are forced to.

Re:Other countries to blame (1, Flamebait)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 6 years ago | (#25052255)

OK, what do you do when your Chinese counterpart assures you that all measures will be taken, takes you on a tour of their modern facility, presents impeccable paperwork from the State Environmental Administration certifying him as a Grade-A eco-disposal facility...and then ships the waste out the back door to be processed on the cheap, making the boss big money? USA's fault to be sure. Inevitably in these situations, I hear something stupid like "well they should post inspectors every step of the way to make sure, it's still USA's fault". The Chinese don't like it when you overtly don't trust them. It causes breakdowns in relationships, and then you really will get screwed. And the really racist part is where the West automatically assumes that those yellow people couldn't possibly be held to "our" standards of health and environment.

Ah, like the Chinese proverb states, "It's patriotic to screw foreigners." Especially when the Chinese get off scot-free and USA gets the blame once again.

Re:Other countries to blame (1)

CmdrGravy (645153) | about 6 years ago | (#25052341)

And how often do you suppose your extremely unlikely sounding hypothetical scenario actually occurs ?

We have been hearing about this problem in the UK for quite a while now where even various councils who were supposed to recyling goods have been caught simply shipping them to India to be dumped in a field. In every case which I've heard reported the entity responsible for employing the recycling firm were completely aware of what was actually happening but assumed that no one would either care or find out and it would be much cheaper.

Re:Other countries to blame (1)

The Slashdot Guy (793685) | about 6 years ago | (#25052973)

Yes, because the "poor B'Stards that get trash dumped on their doorstep" are too stupid to understand what is going on. Fuck you.

Re:Other countries to blame (1)

Joker1980 (891225) | about 6 years ago | (#25055253)

My mum was telling me about something like this that happened in ireland a few months (maybe a year) ago. A recycling company in the south was literally driving the crap to the north and dumping it in landfills.

Re:Other countries to blame (1)

s2n6 (875962) | about 6 years ago | (#25051503)

So it's okay for me to kick your little brother as longs as you say it's okay?

Re:Other countries to blame (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25055129)

A better analogy for his comment would be that it's ok for you to kick him as long as he says it's ok.

Re:Other countries to blame (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25051611)

You must work for the US government.

pressure at both ends (5, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | about 6 years ago | (#25051637)

If party A is using a service provided by party B that you think is immoral, what's the right way to go about stopping it? Well, at both ends. You try to convince party A not to use the service, and you try to convince party B not to provide it.

In this case, you're right, these countries shouldn't allow unsafe waste-processing, and shouldn't allow importing of waste unless it can be safely processed. That's one place to put pressure. However it's also perfectly legitimate to put pressure at the other end: US companies shouldn't be exporting waste except to safe processing facilities.

Re:pressure at both ends (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25054677)

Atually the magic word is 'externality'. Price should be put on everything that is used up in producing products and services, these are externalities.

Companies are selling you a product, but are paying only partly for the raw materials and services needed to produce it. If polluting is free, companies are in effect extracting profit from health of future generations.

We should expand international trade and environmental laws so that the full price of destroyed environment is included in the price of the product.

What to expect from these Greedy U.S. companies... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25051383)

These practices do not surprise me. Just look at our financial markets today. GREED is the word of the day! GREEN my arse! Shame on you freaking CEOs that turn a blind eye on hazardous dumping! I hope a freaking American Airlines Dump falls on your head while you are at your next corporate meeting, trying to cut costs!

Mission Accomplished (0, Flamebait)

tcolberg (998885) | about 6 years ago | (#25051437)

I am thoroughly "shocked and awed" by the actions of the EPA under this administration, just like Mr. Rumsfeld would have wanted.

Made in China, dumped in China (3, Insightful)

Tyrannicalposter (1347903) | about 6 years ago | (#25051441)

Made in China, dumped in China. What's the big deal?

Re:Made in China, dumped in China (4, Insightful)

HuguesT (84078) | about 6 years ago | (#25051561)

Ruthless exploitation at both ends is the big deal.

Re:Made in China, dumped in China (1)

Tyrannicalposter (1347903) | about 6 years ago | (#25051751)

I'm all for banning trade with China if it fixes this "environmental" issue. Democracies have no business trading with dictatorships anyways.

Re:Made in China, dumped in China (1)

NoisySplatter (847631) | about 6 years ago | (#25052019)

Sadly that would probably just lead to people in other countries acting as middlemen to import Chinese goods.

Re:Made in China, dumped in China (4, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | about 6 years ago | (#25052195)

"Ruthless exploitation at both ends is the big deal."

Ruthless competition is how China moved into being an economic powerhouse. The pollution and body count for the US was pretty high too (and so long ago it is largely forgotten) but that was the price of "progress".

Re:Made in China, dumped in China (2, Interesting)

MrBigInThePants (624986) | about 6 years ago | (#25051603)

Suggested Ammendment:

"Made in China for the US, dumped in China for the US."

I don't know. What is the big deal?

hmmm...Maybe...the 202 billion of electronic exports from china? Sounds like a pretty big deal to me.
Source: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-07/02/content_8478003.htm [xinhuanet.com]

NB: This figure includes information exports, which I assume are a small portion of the total.

Re:Made in China, dumped in China (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25051605)

That's going to get flamed, but the lack of safety standards & enforcement by China is a big part of why their exports are so "cheap". It's not entirely wrong for the real costs of that to come home.

Sorry if I'm insensitive by treating the Chinese as adults.

Re:Made in China, dumped in China (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25051685)

Sorry if I'm insensitive by treating the Chinese as adults.

I'm wary of treating the Chinese as adults, who knows how many of them are actually 14 year old gymnasts...

Re:Made in China, dumped in China (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25051757)

ROFL nice, very nice... hahahaha

USA still pwnd in the individuals, and they are way cuter.

Re:Made in China, dumped in China (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25052093)

The little girls might be technically proficient at what they do, but the older ones just plain look better doing it. The older girls have more graceful body shapes compared to the short stout young girls.

Re:Made in China, dumped in China (1)

rprins (1083641) | about 6 years ago | (#25051745)

Think man.

The real costs are already there, lack of safety standards is a costs.

"You're poor and easily bullied. But don't get yourself bullied cause then it's 'not entirely wrong' for us to bully you."

That's what you're saying essentially.

Re:Made in China, dumped in China (1)

forgoil (104808) | about 6 years ago | (#25052745)

China? Easily bullied? A country of that size with their military resources bullied? That's ridiculous! China needs to be serious about the environment like each and every other country on earth. I can understand that very small and weak nations can be exploited by richer ones, and that is the responsibility of the richer/more powerful country to stop. But China? Come on, that is a very very powerful country.

Re:Made in China, dumped in China (2, Insightful)

ozmanjusri (601766) | about 6 years ago | (#25052123)

the lack of safety standards & enforcement by China is a big part of why their exports are so "cheap".

I see this claim a lot, but having looked at some of their factories, I'd have to say it's not really true.

The railcar fabrication workshop we looked at was more modern and mechanised than ours in Australia. They were able to produce the wagons at about 2/3rds the cost of our because they could do much larger production runs, not because they were working dangerously. Economies of scale matter.

Re:Made in China, dumped in China (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25051791)

Since we're outsourcing the dumping to China, they might feel it's some kind of validation for them to dump more and more greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere despite the Global Warming.
Oh wait, who am I kidding, they'll pollute anyways considering the environmental laws(or lack of) they ignore so flagrantly.

Re:Made in China, dumped in China (1)

TheP4st (1164315) | about 6 years ago | (#25052145)

they'll pollute anyways considering the environmental laws(or lack of) they ignore so flagrantly.

As opposed to the fine track record US have with environmentally sound legislation and it's strict adherence/enforcement of it?

Long term ramifications, even if you ignore morals (4, Insightful)

GrpA (691294) | about 6 years ago | (#25051537)

So the US goes and allows (or perhaps worse, is complicit in allowing) it's corporations to keep up profits by dumping toxic products in other countries, where it kills and maims children (which is well proven) who struggle to live by supplying their lives to people who use them as slave labour to recover valuable materials from the dumped items through lethal practices, such as burning plastic from wire.

Then some people argue that if the countries allow it, why is that the US's problem?

And then twenty years later they whine like little babies that they can't understand why the survivors of this situation in those countries hate them so much and want to kill them and everyone else they see as a part of the "Western" world...

And they can't even blame the CIA this time. US corporations are doing a far more sinister job that the CIA ever did.

GrpA.

Re:Long term ramifications, even if you ignore mor (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25051715)

It's what has become the american way. A bit like when US government sends prisoners to countries that allows torture.

Re:Long term ramifications, even if you ignore mor (1)

jalet (36114) | about 6 years ago | (#25053703)

> A bit like when US government sends prisoners to countries that allows torture.

You mean like when US government sends prisoners to the USA ?

I don't think morals are that B/W (4, Interesting)

Moraelin (679338) | about 6 years ago | (#25051861)

I don't think morals are that black and white. While on one hand it would be nice if we in the west disposed of our own garbage, I don't think it's our duty to keep anyone else from shooting themselves in the foot. Unless you want to go back to the old (and even worse) "mission to civilize" and "white man's burden" doctrines.

If China wants to import garbage for some quick cash, it's China's problem alone. They should fix their own laws, if they don't want it to happen.

There _are_ situations where the west did actual harm, including

- bribes (we practically created the 3'rd world kleptocracies, by making it so that taking a bribe from the western corporations is the most profitable thing one could do, better than any industry or commerce)

- military/CIA interventions

- economic pressures to make some countries destroy their own industry and agriculture (including occasionally to take the same good ol' right-wing measures in a crisis that that would turn a crisis into an all out depression, according to the economics we apply in the west)

Etc.

And for that we are rightfully hated.

But things that they do to themselves for a buck? Why would it be our business to stop them from doing that?

E.g., the west didn't hold anyone hostage to make them take our garbage. It's stuff that someone there figured out would be a good way to make some bucks. And is probably acclaimed as the great entrepreneur and one of the guys doing something for their economy there.

E.g., I don't think many western companies take _slaves_ in China, much less India. While I do find that running some of those sweatshops says something about the greedy fucks who moved there just for that, ultimately it's India's and China's job to decide whether that's ok with them or not. They _can_ give minimum wage and maximum hours per week laws if they want to, you know? If they'd rather get dollars than that, why should the west be the one to blame?

And again in most cases it's not the west who even runs those "slave labour" camps, but some local company who subcontracts for a western company. In most cases the western company can't even control what membranes go into their batteries (see incendiary batteries made in China that have a cheap non-working replacement for the membrane that was supposed to collapse and open the circuit when overheated), or what paint is used on their toys (lead-painted toys made in China ftw), or what glue goes into their beads that are supposed to be wet and stuck to a board and most kids will lick to get wet (replaced by some enterprising Chinese with a toxic and psychoactive glue.) What makes you think that the western company gets much more to say about how a Chinese boss treats Chinese employees at that company?

Or, as I was saying, are we back to the "mission to civilize" (China, India and everyone else) doctrine from the 19'th century?

Plus, even if the western corporations didn't directly subcontract to those, they'd still find ways to exploit each other just the same. Whether it's cheap pens or counterfeit watches or farming gold in WoW, they'll _still_ take advantage of the missing legislation to make each other work 90+ hour weeks for a pittance. E.g., I remember an article from some months ago about WoW gold farmers, and those guys were working 12 hour days in essentially a high-tech sweatshops. I don't think any western corporation made them do that. (Blizzard probably would rather they crawl somewhere and die, for example.)

Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to play the bullshit card that we're some kind of great benefactors for giving them those crap jobs. I'm not _that_ deluded. But I _am_ saying that ultimately they do most of that exploitation to themselves, and they must find their own way and equilibrium point there. It's their own f-ing country, and it's mostly their own sociopaths not ours doing that to their workers or environment. It's not _our_ job to clean up _their_ act.

Blaming the west for that, and doubly so trying to kill anyone in the west for that, is just stupid and mis-placed blame.

And when we did try to clean up somebody's act, see that 19'th century again, it ended up (A) creating even more enmity, and rightfully so, because (B) it ended up a hypocritical justification to exploit them and take over their internal/external policy and economy. See, we're doing that only to bring them in line with the civilized world, right? Yeah, right. Once we had the foot in their door, we just used that to turn them into something even closer to slaves. I say we freaking let them solve their own problems, for a change.

Re:I don't think morals are that B/W (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25052031)

Things are not as you claim. Ignoring the part about nations, you have some rich people in the east exploiting poor people in the east, and some rich people in the west are also participating. The national lines are arbitrary.

What's under discussion is a group of powerful people on both sides of the world exploiting the power imbalance they enjoy compared with a group of people in one part of the world.

Imagine if we had the same conversation about heroin or crack, and said it was none of your business if black people were selling to other black people, as it was "them" doing that exploitation to "themselves"?

Your comments about colonial style interference are not valid here, they only apply when meddling internally with another group with no other significant links; the situation under discussion could not exist if not for the huge volumes of trade already flowing.

If anything it's the wealthy westerner's encouragement of Eastern industry on the manufacturing side that's the interference, and it's clear that it is not entirely detrimental to the eastern peoples.

Bonus marks for at least being aware that you are partly deluded though!

Re:I don't think morals are that B/W (5, Informative)

Moraelin (679338) | about 6 years ago | (#25052167)

Imagine if we had the same conversation about heroin or crack, and said it was none of your business if black people were selling to other black people, as it was "them" doing that exploitation to "themselves"?

1. Most importantly, that's a bullshit strawman. Laws about drugs are mostly _internal_ laws. E.g., US citizens tell other US citizens what they can't do. Fair enough.

The only point where it becomes equivalent to what I was saying, is when you start telling another country that they're not allowed to do drugs. It happens too. And there I'll have the same position: fucking leave them alone. It's not your job to dictate world morals. Stick to your own country.

2. Actually, I'll make an even stronger claim there: why should drugs be my problem in the first place? Most are harmless enough, and there are millions of people doing drugs that haven't harmed anyone as a result.

And the usual "OMG it's addictive" argument is bull too. We do allow tobacco, which causes some pretty strong physiological addiction. As in, actual brain chemistry changes. Some drugs, e.g., hemp, don't even do that. We allow alcohol, where the withdrawal symptoms can literally _kill_ you. Look up delirium tremmens some day. That's withdrawal syndrome for alcohol addiction.

And I've worked with people who smoked pot before, and they didn't strike me as the kind that'll get violent or delirious. Now tobacco, _that_ can get funny. You keep me in a meeting for 2-3 hours without my cigarettes, and I hope you don't imagine I can still pay any attention. But somehow my nicotine addiction is considered harmless, while that mellow admin who occasionally does pot is a menace to society. Hmm...

So unless you also feel a need to tell blacks (or for that matter whites, asians, and everyone else) that they aren't allowed to smoke or drink any more, why _would_ you care about them selling heroine or coke to each other.

Re:I don't think morals are that B/W (3, Informative)

kaos07 (1113443) | about 6 years ago | (#25052601)

Laws about drugs are mostly _internal_ laws. E.g., US citizens tell other US citizens what they can't do. Fair enough.

Right, which is why the US never goes into South America and targets drug production and/or manufacturing. And there's definitely no push to eradicate poppy farming in Afghanistan.

Newsflash - It isn't Columbians and Afghanis doing heroin and cocaine, it's Americans. And it's the US telling those countries what they can and can't do because they don't know how to deal with their own citizens when it comes to drugs.

Re:I don't think morals are that B/W (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25052905)

Stick to your own country.

This is EXACTLY the point. And stop using bullshit morals to justify acting like pricks.

Re:I don't think morals are that B/W (1)

IanCal (1243022) | about 6 years ago | (#25052735)

But things that they do to themselves for a buck? Why would it be our business to stop them from doing that?

Because we can? Why should anybody who has the ability to help others do so?

It's not like the workers decided this was what they wanted, large corporations have created a system whereby this is the most profitable thing for suppliers to do. They are complicit as they know what happens with their money. Just because it's legal there doesn't make it right (just as the common line on slashdot is in the vein of "just because it's illegal doesn't make it wrong").

You're grouping the people suffering with those able to solve things together. "Let them sort it out" isn't quite the right line, "Let the people currently benefiting change things" is more accurate.

Yes, but it's still a sovereign nation (1)

Moraelin (679338) | about 6 years ago | (#25053245)

Because we can? Why should anybody who has the ability to help others do so?

I think my point had less to do with "helping" and more with the fact that it _is_ a sovereign nation, and it can fix thing itself by legal means, if it doesn't want our crap jobs or our garbage any more.

Look, we're not talking some puppet banana-republic government there. Both India and China are major nations, who had no problems thumbing their nose at the USA before. They're not doing this because the USA tells them to, because there's not much you can do to force China to do what you want it to. If China or India decide to pass some laws to protect their environment or fix minimum wages for their workers, there isn't much the USA or anyone else can do to stop them.

So let's stop blaming our collective selves there. China can solve it pretty much overnight, any time it wants to. If it doesn't want to, well, that's that.

Going above any beyond that, is already past the realm of "help" and more into the realm of "trying to impose your world view upon a foreign government".

It's not like the workers decided this was what they wanted, large corporations have created a system whereby this is the most profitable thing for suppliers to do. They are complicit as they know what happens with their money.

The free market is ultimately just an optimization algorithm. The results it produces are largely a function of the constraints that are placed on it.

I.e., again, if China wants to fix it, it can simply change the constraints that apply over there. There isn't much that those large corporations can do to force any other result there.

China apparently chose a set where the result is that... well, as someone else's sig went, the invisible hand has its middle finger extended. I fail to see why would anyone put the blame squarely and solely on the western corporations, when essentially it's China's decision to compete in that way and under those conditions. Way I see it, they're at least accomplices there, or actually IMHO the main culprit.

The western corporations didn't do much more there than try to get the best prices. Which is how capitalism and the free market are supposed to work. If two companies offer to take your thrash, and one asks for half the sum, you pick that one. That's how that optimization works. It wasn't the corporations who couped governments there to make someone burn our plastics. (God knows there was enough of that in other places, but none of us couped China lately.) It was someone from that country which came and said, basically, "hey, we can take your thrash for half the price these other guys ask for." It seems to me like the blame lies mostly with them, then. I'm not saying that the west doesn't share _some_ share of the blame there, but I don't see it as the main share any way I want to look at it.

Just because it's legal there doesn't make it right (just as the common line on slashdot is in the vein of "just because it's illegal doesn't make it wrong").

I never claimed that legal is right, so we can even aggree there. All I'm saying is that China should fix its own damned laws. If legal != right, then you change what is legal. As I was saying, we're talking about a major sovereign nation, not about some muppet government with no choice but to nod.

You're grouping the people suffering with those able to solve things together. "Let them sort it out" isn't quite the right line, "Let the people currently benefiting change things" is more accurate.

Except that never worked that way. The people currently benefiting from the status quo, will invariably either

A) try to maintain the status quo, or

B) come up with some surrealistic mis-conception about what those poor proletars actually need.

You can find examples of both either in the same 19'th century I've mentioned before. History is full of burgeois students sipping their coffee at an expensive caffe and imagining what the proletariat really needs. The USSR was the result of such an intellectual exercise, and it wasn't a pretty one.

No, let the ones who are irked enough by the status quo drive the change. If it's the Chinese that inhale those burned plastic fumes, then let the Chinese say when they've had enough.

Re:Yes, but it's still a sovereign nation (1)

Kharny (239931) | about 6 years ago | (#25053535)

you are kind of forgetting that the countries listed aren't exactly democracies.

If the people in control are benefiting, the people that are most likely to get hurt won't have much input in these countries.

Dictatorships such as china are remarkably bad at looking further in the future, especially in such fields as waste etc. Afterall, why would it bother a wealthy, powerful bureaucrat that his country will go to shit in a decade or two if he will be dead by then? There is no control.

Then that's what should be fixed (1)

Moraelin (679338) | about 6 years ago | (#25054549)

Well, then it seems to me that democracy is the first thing that should be fixed there. In fact, the only thing. The rest will then follow, or not, depending on whether the people like it that way or not.

Re:Yes, but it's still a sovereign nation (1)

IanCal (1243022) | about 6 years ago | (#25053713)

If China or India decide to pass some laws to protect their environment or fix minimum wages for their workers, there isn't much the USA or anyone else can do to stop them.

No, of course we can't stop them from changing their laws. That's not really the issue though, the question is can the companies affect things and should they do so.

The western corporations didn't do much more there than try to get the best prices. Which is how capitalism and the free market are supposed to work.

No, they try and make the most money, not get the best prices. A small nitpick, but one that changes the system massively. Without this difference things like fairtrade would not work at all.

I.e., again, if China wants to fix it, it can simply change the constraints that apply over there. There isn't much that those large corporations can do to force any other result there.

Of course there is. It's an optimisation problem, so change the ways in which people profit. If a large corporation will only give you a huge contract if you have decent working conditions, then it's profitable to have decent working conditions.

If legal != right, then you change what is legal

Yes, this is the best way, but it doesn't preclude changing what is happening. Both can be done, but legal issues take far more time to get sorted/approved/etc.

Except that never worked that way. The people currently benefiting from the status quo, will invariably either [snip]

I think there was a misunderstanding here, I wasn't claiming that "Let the people currently benefiting change things" is the way to go, but that it was what your argument amounted to.

If it's the Chinese that inhale those burned plastic fumes, then let the Chinese say when they've had enough.

How much sway do you really think that the Chinese people have over the government?

Re:Long term ramifications, even if you ignore mor (1)

timmarhy (659436) | about 6 years ago | (#25051889)

boo hiss big corporations. why don't you fucking switch off your pc and stop posting on slashdot if it's so terrible, after all that's whats driving the problem.

or maybe, just maybe these developing countries are going through the same development stages our nations did 100 years ago, when industry was low tech and highly polluting.

Over here! (2, Funny)

Xtense (1075847) | about 6 years ago | (#25051559)

Hey there, big computer companies!

I'll gladly take ANY old computer hardware that still works! Finally a chance to replace that old 8bit ISA graphics card... maybe even the FPU! SWEET!

Re:Over here! (1)

Psychotria (953670) | about 6 years ago | (#25051697)

Replace the FPU? You might need a motherboard upgra... oh, no mattter... carry on

Re:Over here! (1)

RuBLed (995686) | about 6 years ago | (#25051741)

I've got an extra Turbo button if you need one.

One more thing! (1)

Gazzonyx (982402) | about 6 years ago | (#25052649)

I'll be needing the left shift key, as well.

With a turbo button and a left shift key, I can clean boot to DOS 6.0 so I can run Doom (after a few lowmem and xmms tweaks) at full speed!

Right. Like I'm the only one who used AOL floppy disks loaded with memory hacks to get Doom running. You all know you did the same thing when you were a kid and sneaker-netted Doom.

It's not waste, it's recycling! (1)

Saint Ego (464379) | about 6 years ago | (#25051581)

Companies could just dump it all 50 miles out at sea like the US Navy does. Instead, they send it where it can be rendered back down to it's base metals for reuse. It isn't as if countries like China are simply burying it all in landfills. FTA sounds like they actively sought out rights to have it dumped on them. They get to re-use whatever raw material can be extracted. If they had more environmentally friendly disposal practices, maybe it wouldn't be so cheap for them to render it all down and they wouldn't be so eager to buy it from us when we're done with it. All I'm saying, though, is that they are not just dumping it out at sea. We can figure out something to do with the waste on land, as long as we stop contributing to problems like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch [wikipedia.org] .

Beavis and Butthead (2, Funny)

nickswitzer (1352967) | about 6 years ago | (#25051597)

Heh... He said "dumping" heh heh.

E-Waste Fee Payers? (3, Interesting)

michaelhood (667393) | about 6 years ago | (#25051627)

Does that mean those of us in States like California [ca.gov] who have payed e-waste fees are owed refunds if they were collected by said companies?

Every time we purchase an "electronic display", or device containing one, we pay a $6-10 fee. Not much per person, but I'm sure it adds up on the companies responsible for this.

Re:E-Waste Fee Payers? (1)

Tyrannicalposter (1347903) | about 6 years ago | (#25051723)

Yup, but good luck getting a refund from them. And I'm sure most of that money goes right into the State's coffers.

I had to pay a disposal fee when I bought a refrigerator, and then I had to pay a dump fee years later to dispose of it.

Back to China! (1)

tigerbody1 (1268208) | about 6 years ago | (#25051701)


Well, the stuff starts in China....

Why cant we just send it back to China?
esp. considering that they are making all the profits, and taking jobs away from hard working Amerikans!

Recycle it properly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25051761)

They should grind it all up and put it into the toys they ship back to the US.

You might not be shocked to know. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25051815)

They actually do that.

dubious practices.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25051839)

old news. here in the UK, there was an investigation a little while ago that re-cycling companies just sold off the 2nd hand systems and kit to developing nations to either use, or dismantle for parts and precious metals.

for example, the report found a stack of old computers from a hospital (as shown by their asset tags) that were being sold from the recycling dump in said developing nation, for $20 a time to anybody. about half the time, the drives were empty, but the investigators bought ten, and after going through the drives they found one with patient mediacal records, names, addresses, phone numbers, and even perscription details.

fantastic.

Storyofstuff (3, Informative)

toQDuj (806112) | about 6 years ago | (#25051901)

May I invite people to look at the "Story of Stuff"? It's a very well done small movie about the waste economy...
http://storyofstuff.com/ [storyofstuff.com]

Cheers,

B.

Re:Storyofstuff (1)

the_other_chewey (1119125) | about 6 years ago | (#25052139)

I wish I could mod that film "overrated".

It is a neat idea, and is very stylish - but its simplifications go way
too far, making some of the stated "facts" just plain wrong. Some come
close to conspiration theories.

The "computer facts" make me cringe.

Unfortunately, this makes it very attackable even where it is right,
making it completely worthless to illustrate any kind of point.

Re:Storyofstuff (1)

bfremon (1128877) | about 6 years ago | (#25054919)

See 'The market of Hunger' from Erwin Wagenhofer to get a much better picture.

SPAM (1)

Alain Williams (2972) | about 6 years ago | (#25052049)

When I read the headline about the USA 'dumping E-Waste' I thought that it would be a story about people in the USA sending SPAM all around the world.

"Recycled" electronics are simply burned (2, Informative)

icejai (214906) | about 6 years ago | (#25052127)

Just saw a mini-documentary on this a couple days ago. Turns out many electronic parts are simply burned to get at the precious metals.

http://current.com/items/76355482_toxic_villages [current.com]

Is there any way to get at the metals via shredding and then panning? Any material or mining engineers have any input?

Re:"Recycled" electronics are simply burned (2, Interesting)

Gazzonyx (982402) | about 6 years ago | (#25052699)

IIRC, this is how the Office Depot tech. recycling thing works. They crush the stuff with large "wheels" with metal "teeth" and then shake and sift out the gold plated stuff (probably heat it to get the gold by itself), glass, PCB, etc. I have no idea how I know this, but I'm fairly sure I read it in their pamphlet (I got a tech-recycling thing going on at work... a day where everyone brings in their old electronics - it's more economical to buy their big box than their small one... I took the pamphlet to work to show my boss, as we've had hard drives that need to be destroyed for some time now) or just made it up in my mind after reading their pamphlet. I'm sure its on their website if anyone needs the karma and could hunt down the link.

Re:"Recycled" electronics are simply burned (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | about 6 years ago | (#25052707)

Is a good question... Maybe using solvents e/or acids?

US is throwing away opportunity (3, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | about 6 years ago | (#25052733)

That is a LOT of raw resources. There is oil, lead, silver, gold, copper, Lithium, etc. in these. There are a number of expensive raw earth materials. Sending it elsewhere is basically buying raw materials, mixing them, and then sending them to another country. Instead, we would do well to research what it takes to recycle these. If we can extract these for a low costs, then we can keep these material for future use. May sound hookie, but there will probably come a time when it will be expensive or difficult to get certain materials (say a cold war in which the items are located in russia).

This needs to be turned into an opportunity, not a problem.

Re:US is throwing away opportunity (1)

Intron (870560) | about 6 years ago | (#25055007)

The problem is that all of the expensive, useful compounds have been combined into composite materials. The gold is in thin plating, the copper is mostly insulated. Extracting them is either too expensive or too polluting.

On the other hand, if the cost of recycling was included by law in the original cost, and turning in the equipment to a certified recycler got you back a deposit, then it would result in less e-waste and more easily recycled designs.

E-Waste? (1)

LordLucless (582312) | about 6 years ago | (#25052843)

What, like MySpace?

Only One (1)

Hanyin (1301045) | about 6 years ago | (#25052963)

Was I the only /.er that looked at the title and wondered how the contents of my computer's recycle bin was ending up overseas?

Ban the EPA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25053233)

http://www.discussglobalwarming.com/blog has tons of EPA hypocrisies, including their largest puppet/liar, Al Gore and his antics.

Idiots.

The Chinese (2, Interesting)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | about 6 years ago | (#25053321)

Most of the large and even not so large "recycling" companies in the US are now owned by the Chinese. In addition to shipping e-waste back to China for processing, they are also behind the large stolen copper wire/plumbing industry that's sprung up in the past 3 years.

/dev/null (1)

Edward Ka-Spel (779129) | about 6 years ago | (#25053521)

I always dump my e-waste into /dev/null, but I guess that's just me.

Boy oh boy (1)

russotto (537200) | about 6 years ago | (#25054001)

Anticorporate socialist environmentalist types really are a bunch of whiners. Know what would happen if these things weren't shipped to third-world countries to be destructively recycled? They'd be dumped in landfills, where they'd cause relatively little problem. It just isn't economically feasible (nor even technically feasible in many cases) to cleanly deconstruct them for their raw materials. And in the US you can't do the destructive recycling. So, choose -- do you want recycling, or do you want clean disposal processes? Or would you rather take option C, whine about the evil US and evil corporations, and say we shouldn't be using electronics at all until we've figured out how to turn them back into sand, oil, and metal without any byproducts?

Government Accountability Office (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25054405)

I heard Bush had that razed during his first term to make way for a Chick-Fil-A.

Well, I guess you can't stop Progress...

Does this debunk the Greenpeace report? (2, Interesting)

MobyDisk (75490) | about 6 years ago | (#25054673)

So does that mean the old report on "greenness" [slashdot.org] of various tech companies is wrong? I remember when this came out, and greenpeace merely looked at the companies policies, not what they actually did. Now it looks like the companies were lying. Biiig surprise. Glad I didn't follow that advice.

So is it safe to say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25055107)

... that downgrad... er, I mean upgrading to the new Micro$oft Operating system will make more chinese and Indian children sick because of the much more powerful hardware requirements that the worlds consumers and businesses will be forced to purchase? Even though their existing hardware still works fine for all practical purposes? Me thinks Steve Ballmer doesn't consider such things as very important. What a shame.

GAO (1)

BigBlueOx (1201587) | about 6 years ago | (#25055111)

Government Accountability Office? Really?
(SMACK)
tards
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>