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Agbogbloshie: The World's Largest e-Waste Dump

samzenpus posted about 8 months ago | from the put-that-anywhere dept.

Earth 117

kc123 writes "Photographer Kevin McElvaney documents Agbogbloshie, a former wetland in Accra, Ghana, which is home to the world's largest e-waste dumping site. Boys and young men smash devices to get to the metals, especially copper. Injuries, such as burns, untreated wounds, eye damage, lung and back problems, go hand in hand with chronic nausea, anorexia, debilitating headaches and respiratory problems. Most workers die from cancer in their 20s."

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Something I threw away may have killed someone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46364771)

This is serious. Not throwing away my e-waste unless I can be sure someone is not going to die from it. We are acting like savages!

Re:Something I threw away may have killed someone (2)

ackthpt (218170) | about 8 months ago | (#46364911)

This is serious. Not throwing away my e-waste unless I can be sure someone is not going to die from it. We are acting like savages!

You aren't acting like a savage - the people who dispose of it for a living or enrichment, without a care to what they've stuck in some bog, river or former farmland, those are savages. Rather like the cretins who roam our backroads, looking for a clear chance to unload their trash, rather than take it to a proper disposal site.

Much of what's in Ghana has been exported from the first world, to the third world, where people live (even if briefly) on scavenging. This isn't much different from the very depressing and massive ewaste dumps in China.

I was told and old IBM 360 system was being trucked to Savannah, Georgia, where it would go aboard a ship and taken to China, where families would bid upon bits of the system, which they'd take home and extract copper, gold and anything else of value - you can do the math yourself to figure what they did with the remains.

Thank God I didn't get that blasted beta ! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46364971)

Yea, can always close, clear history, and reload /.

this should be illegal. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46365005)

I'm sorry it should not be legal to enable the killing of others!

Re:this should be illegal. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46365243)

I don't know about that, some people deserve to die.

Re:this should be illegal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46365713)

I pay an e-waste disposal tax on every piece of electronics that I buy. My responsibility ends right there.

Re:Something I threw away may have killed someone (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 8 months ago | (#46366275)

You aren't acting like a savage - the people who dispose of it for a living or enrichment, without a care to what they've stuck in some bog, river or former farmland, those are savages.

Who is responsible for the consequences when you hand a toddler a loaded gun?

Who is responsible for the consequences when you knowingly arm a criminal who has additional criminal intent?

Re:Something I threw away may have killed someone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46366819)

If I had a loaded gun to my local gun disposal company and they (without checking it) hand it over to a toddler who is responsible?

IMO it depends how much effort I put in to finding a gun disposal company. If I go for "The Gun Disposal and Toddler Killing Company" then I should get some of the blame. But if I go for a decent looking company (say one vetted by my local government) and they hand it over, well sorry but I did what I could.

waste diposal problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46367401)

Since there seems no responsible policy in many municipalities or at the federal level to deal with the issue responsibly, when you buy of and dispose of said e-waste you are a contributor to anothers suffering. Economically marginalized people who find it necessary to injure themselves with your waste to make a day to day living.
You can rationalize it anyway you want. The solution is responsible disposal options or not going down that path that modern technology and capitalism deem inevitable,
your choice.

Re:Something I threw away may have killed someone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46365077)

This is serious. Not throwing away my e-waste unless I can be sure someone is not going to die from it. We are acting like savages!

I suggest taking your old electronics into your back yard and using your barbecue pit to smelt out any precious metals. That way you can dispose of the rest of the material secure in the knowledge no one in a third world country will be harmed while processing your waste!

Seriously! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46365167)

We need to figure out how to deal with this sustainably and without hurting anyone. Are we really that stupid and primitive? I don't think so.

Re:Something I threw away may have killed someone (2, Interesting)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 8 months ago | (#46365449)

If you throw away e-waste, it ends up in a domestic landfill at the worst, recycled in a domestic processing plant at best.

http://www.bloombergview.com/a... [bloombergview.com]

It's actually the used computer equipment that gets sold to the third world that ends up in places like Africa. They do actually end up using most of it, until it either breaks or they find something better, and NOBODY buys their used stuff, so THAT stuff ends up in these photographs you are seeing here. The only way WE can prevent that is to completely deny the third world access to technology, which I don't think is an ideal situation.

But basically this is unwarranted environmental alarmism, exactly like the imagined (and never realized, and never will be realized) threat of so called overflowing landfills:

http://www.slate.com/articles/... [slate.com]

Re:Something I threw away may have killed someone (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46365847)

The only way WE can prevent that is to completely deny the third world access to technology, which I don't think is an ideal situation.

That's exactly right. If you stem the flow of "e-waste" to Africa you also deny access to second hand affordable computer technology. This type of of environmentalism confuses the cause - extreme poverty - with it's effects. Those people are inhaling toxic fumes for a living because they don't have a better economic choice. If you stem the flow of "e-waste", those kids will end up none the better, maybe sold as slaves on a cocoa plantation or in a brothel.

Instead of applying a 1st wold view "pollution=bad", you need to fix the economic and institutional problems of those countries. Denying them access to affordable 3-5 years old computers is not a solution. Shredding said computers, the production of which took a massive environmental toll in countries like China, is an environmental crime if they are still usable.

Yes, poverty is very ecological. You can die of starvation and faithfully observe Malthusian law with no impact on the environment. But poor people want to live and they will do anything regardless of it's impact on "the environment".

Re:Something I threw away may have killed someone (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46366799)

I don't know if I agree that stemming the flow of e-waste denies them affordable tech... Something tells me that getting old CRTs there isn't all that more cost effective. Nor is getting them ancient cell phones.
If this were the case (and maybe it is for all I know) - where's the stories of African PC magicians resurrecting these Pentium 200 MMX machines on Win98?

Re:Something I threw away may have killed someone (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46365787)

Are we acting like savages or are we helping these people?
Sure 'processing' this waste might kill them in a decade, but starvation without the cash this waste brings in could kill them in a couple of weeks.
The situation is kind of like the one with prostitution. People like to moralize how prostitution is wrong and degrading to women, but they never give a though to how those women would survive if prostitution was stopped.

Re:Something I threw away may have killed someone (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46366199)

they are just dumb niggers and they would die fast and young anyway, i say we keep shitting their country up, africa is fucking worthless

Re:Something I threw away may have killed someone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46367497)

africa is not a country, child

Re:Something I threw away may have killed someone (1)

Applehu Akbar (2968043) | about 8 months ago | (#46366787)

E-waste recycling should be an automated, domestic factory operation. This would extract far more usable value than kids running around on a dump.

I like this idea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46368815)

I seriously think you're on to something here.

I thought they used all that stuff to crush nuts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46364787)

http://www.theonion.com/articles/bantu-tribesman-uses-ibm-global-uplink-network-mod,19616/

I try to do the right thing (2)

gatkinso (15975) | about 8 months ago | (#46364793)

Dispose of my stuff in the proscribed manner at the municipal dump. TV's here, computers there, light bulbs in that shed, batteries one over.... but how do I know they aren't just paying to have that stuff shipped overseas?

E waste. Plastic in the ocean. Pharmaceutical water contamination. We are f'ed.

Re:I try to do the right thing (5, Funny)

WWJohnBrowningDo (2792397) | about 8 months ago | (#46364829)

Dispose of my stuff in the proscribed [merriam-webster.com] manner at the municipal dump.

It's probably not smart to brag about your illegal activities on the Internet :)

Re:I try to do the right thing (1)

macraig (621737) | about 8 months ago | (#46364877)

Are you just baiting us or do you really not know? Overseas is EXACTLY where all that stuff goes. Virtually none of it remains to be processed in the United States. Much of it also winds up in similar locations in China.

Re:I try to do the right thing (4, Informative)

Burdell (228580) | about 8 months ago | (#46365093)

False [bloombergview.com] . Yet another endlessly repeated "truth" based on invalid or non-existent studies.

Re:I try to do the right thing (4, Informative)

rtb61 (674572) | about 8 months ago | (#46365357)

The United States International Trade Commission, "the agency determines the impact of imports on U.S. industries", http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U... [wikipedia.org] , when they asked companies for what they thought for marketing purpose how much waste they dump in foreign markets, those companies replied we do not dump waste, we buy waste disposal services at world competitive rates and what those waste disposal services according to the paper work they receive, they dispose of it according to law in the countries where it is dumped 'er' recycled.

When you sell it to a disposal company and they dump it in foreign markets you are dumping it in foreign market forget the PR=B$ especially from a government department that is just chock a block full of political appointees and is lead around by the nose by US corporate political campaign donors. From them you will get the "truth" but most definitely not the truth.

Re:I try to do the right thing (1)

macraig (621737) | about 8 months ago | (#46365511)

That is contrary evidence that I'm not prepared to dispute, but I still have to wonder where all the CRTs and American-looking PC chassis in TFA's photos might have come from, if not the United States?

Re:I try to do the right thing (4, Insightful)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 8 months ago | (#46365823)

American-looking PC chassis

As opposed to the foreign-looking ones they have in other countries?

Re:I try to do the right thing (1)

macraig (621737) | about 8 months ago | (#46365871)

Hey, they looked American to me! Doesn't Dell have a patent on fan grills and such?

Re:I try to do the right thing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46366879)

And Dell don't sell out side the US. Little known fact. IBM never sell a thing out side the US. Apple... The reason the Brits hate America is while they get the adverts no units are ever sold in the UK.

Re:I try to do the right thing (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about 8 months ago | (#46365569)

While there might be some "truth" to that story, it's sure not all be done here. You can bet that many companies who are full of overstock on materials to reclaim find it easier to rent a few dozen cargo containers and simply pack them full and file them over. And since we inspect under 1% of the outgoing and less than 3% of the incoming, you're just trusting that "commercial recyclable waste" isn't electronic components, but bulk metal, and so on. My time as a shipper/receiver for a company over a decade ago has long since left me that there's any truth or usefulness in the massive paperwork scheme that exists today.

Re:I try to do the right thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46364907)

It all gets sold to the lowest bidder. Always! One way or another, a bunch of primates are going to get their hands on it, because the rest of don't give a... Oh! Shiny!!

Re:I try to do the right thing (0)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 8 months ago | (#46365329)

You shouldn't really worry about it, because in all likelihood the alternative for the people there is worse. Our garbage is now a jobs program overseas, even though we didnt intend it to be.

What are we going to do about it, after all? Start up a real jobs program for these people? Its not exactly our responsibility to provide jobs to people on another continent.

All the stuff about toxicity, cancer, and so on is a red herring. The alternative for them is zero income.

Re:I try to do the right thing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46365549)

Cancer or chronic heavy metal poisoning is a better alternative to no income??

Re:I try to do the right thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46365641)

Yes, you can live a while with cancer or heavy metal poisoning, often years. With no income you starve, die, then your children starve and die.

Re:I try to do the right thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46366209)

I'd rather starve than "live" in constant pain from cancer or slowly go insane from heavy metal poisoning.

Re:I try to do the right thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46366425)

The people in the photos are able to make that choice for themselves. They know exactly what happens to people who do this work, as they see it every day.

Re:I try to do the right thing (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 8 months ago | (#46365619)

there have been reports of, when you turn your stuff into a 'recycling center' that they simply just throw it away, old school style, or send it to some 3rd world country for them to deal with.

maybe it was on a penn/teller show, I forget.

Re:I try to do the right thing (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 8 months ago | (#46366415)

You put it in a black garbage bag and throw it in with the general trash. The way I look at it, it's better that we're polluting our own country than fucking up one that barely has a government and the people have little say in what we dump there.

I've known about these African cesspools for at least 10 years now (I think they featured them on 60min once) and I've refused to "properly" dispose of my e-waste ever since. I also refuse to participate in e-waste programs at work and take the opportunity to inform as many people as possible of the situation but most people refuse to believe me and think that the programs actually recycle the material!

Another small bit of info: There are also teams of kids combing the dumps for hard-drives as they're worth money to people that search them for financial information, passwords, etc...

Re: I try to do the right thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46366539)

Of course it goes overseas, did you read the story? We don't want that SHIT in our backyard! Jeez don't pretend to be a dumbass...

Most workers die from cancer in their 20s (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46364823)

If any statement needs a fact checking, that one does. I call bullshit.

Re:Most workers die from cancer in their 20s (2)

Squiggle (8721) | about 8 months ago | (#46364899)

Couldn't find much about cancer rates except people repeating that particular line. However, this seems reiable and seems pretty deadly:
from http://www.worstpolluted.org/p... [worstpolluted.org]
"Samples taken around the perimeter of Agbogbloshie, for instance, found a presence of lead levels as high as 18,125 ppm in soil."
From wikipedia:
"No safe threshold for lead exposure has been discovered—that is, there is no known sufficiently small amount of lead that will not cause harm to the body."

Re:Most workers die from cancer in their 20s (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46364967)

oh great, 30 years of leaning over a soldering iron....

Re:Most workers die from cancer in their 20s (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46365225)

"No safe threshold for lead exposure has been discovered—that is, there is no known sufficiently small amount of lead that will not cause harm to the body."

When you get down to levels in natural streams that people and animals are able to live off without any obvious consequences, in the sub-ppb level, then you are effectively safe in this context considering:

"Samples taken around the perimeter of Agbogbloshie, for instance, found a presence of lead levels as high as 18,125 ppm in soil."

Assuming that is using a comma as a thousands separator, that is 1.8% lead content in the soil, that is ten times as much lead per weight than leaded fuel, and on par or more than the amount of lead in lead based paints.

Re:Most workers die from cancer in their 20s (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 8 months ago | (#46365437)

"No safe threshold for lead exposure has been discovered"

Yes, it is true that lead is dangerous. Lead poisoning can cause mental retardation, and even death. But there is little evidence that it causes cancer. It kills you in other ways. So if it is true that "most workers die from cancer in their 20s", it is not the lead that is causing it. Most likely that "factoid" was just made up by some journalist. Ghana is not that poor compared to the rest of Africa, and I doubt that these people would be stupid enough to engage in an activity if it was really an automatic death sentence.

Re:Most workers die from cancer in their 20s (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 8 months ago | (#46366337)

Maybe not stupid. Desperate with people to send money back to perhaps. History is full of people selling themselves into everything up to and including a short life as a slave for the benefit of people they care about.
Plus at 20 anyone that doesn't know better feels pretty fucking invincible. They could see it as a death sentence for the unlucky.
One of my grandfathers worked at an arsenic mine that was badly run. In hindsight it was an automatic death sentence but it took three decades for everyone who worked there to die. Of course I never met him to hear what people thought about it at the time.

Anorexia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46365305)

I'm wondering what the word "anorexia" is doing in that list.
Any guesses what they really meant to write?

Re:Anorexia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46365407)

Diarrhea. Sounds similar.

Re:Anorexia? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46365589)

Loss of appetite is implied. This is typical of people who's bodies are in general distress (re: poison, which cancers tend to generate, and exists in e-waste). This innocuous mention, is subtle but prominently descriptive when talking about an area with a high rate of cancer.

Re:Most workers die from cancer in their 20s (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46365457)

Considering there are ZERO photos that show the claimed size of this dump, it is BS. It's like the people that claimed there was a Texas-sized collection of plastic bags in the Pacific that provided only zoomed in shots that showed only only a few feet of debris. This is the same sort of dishonest photo "journalism."

Re:Most workers die from cancer in their 20s (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46365959)

Yeah probably bullshit, they don't have time to develop cancer, they die off from lung diseases, heavy metal poisoning and all that fun way before cancer has time to kick in.

Probably impossible to get accurate stats anyway, nobody bothers to count how many live/die and who bothers putting a diagnosis on what killed them.

Indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46368781)

Yes - how they could print that is amazing - its Africa so fact checking isn't needed?
I'm sure the rates of cancer are orders of magnitude higher but "most" die in their 20's?
That means the majority of workers are not sick and incapacitated but dead by 29

Finally (1)

oldhack (1037484) | about 8 months ago | (#46364879)

Headline that's complete gibberish.

What's the point of this? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46364991)

What's the point of this story? For us to feel bad or even guilt? What, am I suppose to give up computers, phones and basically all modern tech simply because some country with fucked-up environmental and working standards has people dying from toxins?

Awareness perhaps? Awareness is only useful if it can lead to change for the better. Knowing about this is not helpful, at least to me. I was already aware that there's several countries in the world which have areas of e-waste disposal so lacking in basic safety for its workers that things like this will happen, but again, what can I do to commit chance? Give up using tech? Fuck no, it's my career and not a realistic solution anyway. Hold onto the tech I already have and not buy new stuff so often? I do so already and it's good advice in any case, so I'll give it that.

But FUCK YOU if I'm gonna feel sorry for these guys. I'm sorry they were unlucky to born in bumfuck, Africa and don't have much hope anyway, but that's life.

wrongness (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46365045)

We all know that in most countries in Africa, "bumfucking" is illegal.

Re:What's the point of this? (4, Insightful)

FictionPimp (712802) | about 8 months ago | (#46365057)

It could inspire us to support companies that actually do recycling rather than dumping. It could inspire you to pay to recycle your phone rather than toss it in the trash. It could inspire you to push for consumer options that create less e-waste. It could inspire you to donate to a research project or start one to find a industrial use for e-waste.

It could even just be simply to inform you that people are suffering because of greed. News does not always need you to take action. Sometimes its purpose is just to inform.

Re:What's the point of this? (3, Insightful)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | about 8 months ago | (#46365435)

Yes, that would have been a very good message to give, had they listed ANY reputable companies as alternatives. This article gives practically no information. Other than photo captions, the slashdot "summary" is actually LONGER than the entire article.

This is nothing more than a heart-string sensationalist article to up their viewership. Had the author actually cared about these people they would have listed the companies responsible for this crap, and the reputable companies that actually recycle the materials properly instead of literally putting the people on little monitor-soapboxes (yes literally, check out the photos) and adding sad captions like some twisted version of lolcats.

Re:What's the point of this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46365611)

Would it surprise you to learn that even the devices of people who paid to have them recycled responsibly ended up in this Ghanan dump? Just because you pay to have your device properly disposed of doesn't mean that it's actually done properly. Whenever there's money to be made somebody will be tempted to cheat, especially when nobody is watching or following up on what actually happens to the junk.

Re:What's the point of this? (1)

rhodie (61831) | about 8 months ago | (#46366659)

It could inspire us to support companies that actually do recycling rather than dumping.

You don't get it... This is the recycling you speak of! My town used to have a couple days a year you could drop off electronics and they would "recycle" them by giving the gear to companies where it would be sent to less developed nations where "outdated technology could still be used". They just don't tell you that when they were done with it (or if they had no use for it) that this this is how it would be used...

It could even just be simply to inform you that people are suffering because of greed. News does not always need you to take action. Sometimes its purpose is just to inform.

Yup, these people are greedy, they would rather burn this stuff, risking personal injury, to extract what little value is left from this "junk" than starve to death... Those greedy bastards!

I do at least agree with your last point, that not every news story requires action as a response, because there is no easy or quick answer on how to deal with this problem... But knowing about it will hopefully help us make better decisions in the future. Still though, planned obsolescence and disposable everything will probably continue to be "the norm".

Re:What's the point of this? (4, Insightful)

Garridan (597129) | about 8 months ago | (#46365109)

Right... so... you want to be sheltered from the worst news from the unprivileged, because you feel powerless to stop it? Tell that to the people in that situation, with significantly less power to stop it! Yes! Let's not talk about the bad things in the world unless the newspiece has a button that you can personally click to solve that problem. That's exactly how problem-solving works. Who knows why the press never thought of that!

Re:What's the point of this? (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 8 months ago | (#46365291)

Let's not talk about the bad things in the world unless the newspiece has a button that you can personally click to solve that problem.

Have you tried killall?

Re:What's the point of this? (5, Funny)

geminidomino (614729) | about 8 months ago | (#46365303)

killall | god | sort > out.dat

Re:What's the point of this? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46365925)

I really hope you need sudo to do that.

Re:What's the point of this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46367357)

existence runs with root permissions.

The White man isn't allowed to supervise them anym (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46365605)

Ghana declared independence from British rule. They're their own country now and if this is what they want then so be it. It's their decision.

Re:What's the point of this? (2)

skids (119237) | about 8 months ago | (#46365111)

Awareness is only useful if it can lead to change for the better. Knowing about this is not helpful, at least to me.

There's a difference between knowing it as a vanilla fact and seeing it, so yes, awareness on a more motivational level, which might lead to change, eventually. I could see pressure being put on companies to market products with a verified disposal program, but we've got a long way to go just pressuring them to use decent workplaces, so it will probably be a while. Still, bringing the reality home helps us keep in mind what everntually needs to happen.

Of course the natural reaction of some will be to hang on to power-hungry older electronics and machinery over newer more efficient models, which depending on the exact device in question, may or may not do any good in the larger picture.

(I've got a cellar full of cat litter pails full of old e-waste I can't bring myself to hand over to anyone, given I don't trust any of the available recipients. Way more than I need to scavange the occasional diode or transistor off of.)

Re:What's the point of this? (1)

whistlingtony (691548) | about 8 months ago | (#46365719)

Look up Free Geek. I'm in Portland, and I do volunteer work with them. Perhaps the point of the story is to raise awareness and get you to make sure your e-waste is reused or recycled properly in your own community. Perhaps you'll start a Free Geek where you are.

There is a problem. The first step is to acknowledge that there is a problem. The second step is to do something about it, and your Logical Fallacy (black and white) about giving up tech is... Apathetic. Apathetic is a polite word. Your complete lack of empathy for other people is ... sociopathic? Really, wow man. Thanks for what you do, but... wow. What an attitude to have about your fellow man. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. ...... Care.

Re:What's the point of this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46366911)

Right now in my living room I've got a twenty-year-old standard-def TV hooked up to an eight-year-old satellite DVR, and I'm typing this on an eight-year-old laptop that was top-of-the-line back in the day, and I've had to replace the cooling fan and the hinge.

And why? Amongst other reasons, because of shit like this.

Meanwhile someone I know has already replaced their flat screen TV for a new one simply because the power supply in the old one one blew out. And off the old one goes to be stripped.

I'll replace the old TV either when it dies or they can be arsed to bring fiber optic to my street. Until then I'll live with it.

.

Re:What's the point of this? (2)

Khashishi (775369) | about 8 months ago | (#46368517)

The first step to solving a problem, is to know that one exists.

This is a Hoax (4, Informative)

retroworks (652802) | about 8 months ago | (#46365135)

- Cities in Africa have had TVs for decades, generate their own "e-waste". Nigeria had 6.9M households with TV in 2007 (World Bank)

- According to the UN, the 6B people in "emerging markets" generate far more e-waste, and far more ewaste trade, than OECD nations.

- African importers have no financial interest in paying to import junk.

- UNEP studies of seized "e-waste" in Lagos and Accra found 91% reuse and repair, better than brand new sales.

- The Western Accuser (BAN.org) earns money from "certifying" that recyclers don't export, has a $$ interest in the accusations

The Western Accuser admits to fabricating the statistics about 80% e-waste exports. They lied and admit they lied. http://retroworks.blogspot.com... [blogspot.com]

These stories belittle the techs in Africa who tinker and repair, for financial gain among manufacturers intent on "planned obsolescence". "Parasites of the poor" is the label for these stories in Africa.

Re:This is a Hoax (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46365241)

http://shanghaiscrap.com/2012/... [shanghaiscrap.com] These are some of the TVs thrown out in China. Looks a bit bigger that TFA "Largest" e-waste dump photos.

Re:This is a Hoax (2)

skids (119237) | about 8 months ago | (#46365267)

It's not a hoax. It's a complicated issue, with advocates from multiple sides of the issue *all* playing fast and loose with the "facts", since they are mostly PR advocates. Reading that comment thread really was an excruciating reminder that some people will take an argument to great length for its own sake, or for the sake of a grudge.

E.G. it does not matter much whether a TV with 1 year of life left in it goes directly into a third-world dump, or spends a year in a house before it gets there. It does matter if a used cell phone allows a farmer to arrange to hire some seasonal labor without walking to town to do so. Two scenarios, two totally different equations.

Re:This is a Hoax (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46365625)

with advocates from multiple sides of the issue *all* playing fast and loose with the "facts"

When doesn't an advocate play fast and loose with the facts?

Re:This is a Hoax (4, Informative)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 8 months ago | (#46365917)

The third world is undoubtedly bad, but the only way we can get them to clean up is if we clean ourselves up first. If we create products that are easier to recycle and then develop disposal systems that avoid dumping them poorer nations will soon join in because there is money to be made. We treat waste like a problem we have to pay to make go away, where as these guys have already figured out that it can be profitable if you don't care about health and safety.

Additionally the US is doing quite badly compared to Europe. Were are your restrictions on exporting to places that dump, or your equivalent of RoHS? The bar has been set.

Re:This is a Hoax (1)

khallow (566160) | about 8 months ago | (#46367393)

What exactly is supposed to be the problem here? The only way "we" get the third world to clean up is by making them part of the first world. The first world went through its own polluting stage and it came out fine.

That's the best you can do? (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 8 months ago | (#46366251)

The fact that responsible recycling is occurring doesn't change the fact that irresponsible e-Waste burning is occurring any more than the fact that America is full of obese people changes the fact that there are literally children starving in America.

Largest E-Waste Dump? Hoax (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46365173)

Compare the photos in the Slashdot submission to these http://shanghaiscrap.com/2012/... [shanghaiscrap.com]

And none of the TVs in this photo were imported from western nations. None of them. So, of the 1% of these shown in TFA, how many were actually imported? Or is the point to think about the sad Negro children paid $1 to stand on the husks of TVs thrown out by African cities?

Worst of the bunch (4, Informative)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 8 months ago | (#46365187)

This is what you come upon when you go filming the poor amongst the poor. Yet again a relatively small are is shown, this time around the RT monitor stands. It looks like a problem of law enforcement, lack of recycling infrastructure for terminal waste and lack of employment for these people.
Don't fall for e-waste scare again. Actual numbers tell that the vast majority of it is recycled and reused. This was covered already but here's one witness example :
http://www.usatoday.com/story/... [usatoday.com]

"A handful of countries in the developed world don't like the ban," Puckett said. "Some countries have ratified the Basel Convention but don't agree to the ban."

Ingenthron disagrees with the definition of electronic equipment exported for repair as hazardous. He said those exports account for about 8% of the 13 million pounds Good Point processes, and provide a livelihood for Third World entrepreneurs.

Wahab Mohammed, 36, of Accra, Ghana, relies on Good Point to provide an inventory of used computers and more for his business in Ghana.

"I buy TVs, computers, speakers, amplifiers and stereos," Wahab said last month as he roamed the maze of shrink-wrapped mountains of equipment at Good Point. "When I take them back I have people who work for me. We resell everything, 80% to 90% we're able to make it work."

Wahab tries to make the pilgrimage to Good Point every three or four months, splitting his time between Middlebury and Accra. He's planning to open a recycling plant in Ghana.

"In Africa laptops cost more than here brand new," Wahab said. "My customers appreciate me bringing in used laptops they're able to buy for $100. I still make money."

In fact what you see in TFA is not our waste, but Ghanans's waste. The news is they're dumping CRT PC monitors (looks like 17 inchers), probably because they're too expensive to run, and some of them may just have failed.
Africans don't want to buy our discarded CRTs these days and no goodwill organisation will pay for the shipping either.

I would also like to know what happens to TFA's pile of five PC on the moped. "PCs and electronic devices that look in reasonable condition are sold untested in Accra". Well three are AT, so a bit crap (but may contain hard drives, etc., and may serve some limited use or as thin clients), two are ATX and so are USB, can do MP3 playback, file transfers to from USB flash drives or cell phones, word processing or accounting ; probably divx playback (the bottom one is color-coded, thus powerful) . Just don't turn it on often.

Re:Worst of the bunch (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 8 months ago | (#46366263)

In fact what you see in TFA is not our waste, but Ghanans's waste. The news is they're dumping CRT PC monitors (looks like 17 inchers), probably because they're too expensive to run, and some of them may just have failed.

You're really a colossal idiot if you don't think we're still disposing of monitors. I still see people selling them on craigslist every day, let alone giving them away.

Re:Worst of the bunch (1)

n1ywb (555767) | about 8 months ago | (#46368369)

We are still disposing of them, yes, there's always crates full of them at the dump (in Vermont). There's no used market for them though. I see people trying to sell them, but I never see anybody buy them. Their value is in the negative numbers; IE you typically have to pay to get rid of them. Even the thrift stores sell LCDs now. Only a fool would pay money for a CRT in this market.

Re:Worst of the bunch (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 8 months ago | (#46367575)

> Ghana...(looks like 17-inchers)

There's a politically incorrect joke in there somewhere, I'm sure of it.

Where I live (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46365651)

Where I live, e-waste is recycled. By that I mean its shipped to a central location, components are de-soldered, solder is melted off and collected, copper is removed from the printed circuit boards, and the fibreglass circuit board is ground down. We pay for recycling through a tax on new components (tv's, computers, etc), and that money goes to the recycler. Plastics are hard to recycle, so they are usually mixed together and formed into 'plastic wood' which are used for sidewalks, buildings, and places where you want a material as strong as a 2x4, but doesn't rot in the environment. Plastic wood is required to be non-toxic, non-leeching, and should be U/V tolerant.

One mobile device per company policy (1)

invictusvoyd (3546069) | about 8 months ago | (#46365673)

In 2013 1.81 billion mobile devices were shipped. Half of them are going to become (deliberately? ) obsolete by 2015.

If China had not implimented the one child policy decades ago , they would have the worlds largest landfills today!

One mobile device per company !!! is the need of the hour. Besides that will keep the devices sane and force them to include all features into one flat priced device.

bananahammock (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46365715)

Am I the only one that finds anorexia rather out of place in an otherwise ordinary list?

Re:bananahammock (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46366321)

Do you even know what anorexia means? It simply means "lack of appetite".

Choice (0)

nurb432 (527695) | about 8 months ago | (#46365939)

Choose a hazardous job, you might get sick and die. So the point here is?

Re:Choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46366365)

Choose a hazardous job, you might get sick and die. So the point here is?

The lack of employment choice in a client state with a devastated economy which creates a slave population with little other option other than to do the dirty jobs the patron state doesn't want to pay a reasonable amount for?

If you were facing starvation and had restricted access to the education needed to inform you that there might be other options and enable you to seek them would see you hauling coal as well.

Or.., do you actually believe that if you were in the same situation you would Harry Potter your way to success with your deep wells of intrinsic heroic super specialness?

Re:Choice (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 8 months ago | (#46366561)

Again, its a choice. Choose poorly, die. Choose well, dont die.

To answer your question: If i was in that situation, i would choose to prey on others that were choosing poorly.

Original articles: links (2, Informative)

advid.net (595837) | about 8 months ago | (#46365961)

Quoting previous articles:

In Pictures: Ghana's e-waste magnet [aljazeera.com]
E-waste at the Agbogbloshie dumpsite near Accra has created a socio-economic and environmental disaster.
Kevin McElvaney, 12 Feb 2014

Inside Ghana's electronic wasteland [aljazeera.com]
Dangerous practice of burning electronic waste to extract metals could be made safely obsolete.
Chris Stein, 02 Nov 2013

Why burning? (1)

abies (607076) | about 8 months ago | (#46366177)

Why they are burning this stuff?
I understand picking through it to find sellable parts, possibly smashing it down to extract some metal etc, but why burn the rest? To save the space?

Re:Why burning? (2)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 8 months ago | (#46366213)

I did that a couple times. Want to use speaker cables? You can cut the cable at the desired length with a pair of scissors, then if you're lazy, burn the end of the cable with a cigarette lighter to bare it. Ditto with CAT5 pairs (the tiny inner wires - I don't suggest burning what surrounds them), there the pollution is tiny is comparison.

(Don't buy thick high end speaker cables, they're useless and a rip off.. and they're harder to rip off?)

Re:Why burning? (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 8 months ago | (#46366239)

I forgot the adequate warning that this is Not Nice.

Re:Why burning? (1)

retroworks (652802) | about 8 months ago | (#46366317)

Bored unemployed teenagers. See photos.

Re:Why burning? (1)

wjcofkc (964165) | about 8 months ago | (#46366597)

When you burn it, everything you don't want goes up in smoke leaving behind everything you do want. In the United States, copper theft is very high. This almost always means burning what you stole to get at the copper - otherwise no one will buy it. I live not 10-minutes away from a scrapyard that buys the most obviously stolen copper. If you bring in 80 pounds of heavy-duty copper wiring with the plastic still on it, they won't purchase it because they can't accurately weigh it. Also, they can't legally burn it and aren't going to go through the trouble of stripping it. So it gets burned, weighed, and sold in its raw form.

Funny thing about that. Google fiber is being installed not far from where I live. As a consequence, there have been incidents where a whole lot of fiber gets left out overnight. The next day its been magically relocated to a ditch somewhere - charred, burned, and melted. No one ever said that copper thieves are all that bright.

Solution: build a recycling plant (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | about 8 months ago | (#46366857)

Seriously, if a bunch of people can make a living by being horribly inefficient, then surely some smart engineers can extract the valuables from this by building a good process?

I mean, even if you improve organization a little, and you build a furnace with a rudimentary smoke filter, this situation would be immensely improved for everyone. Those people make a better living, and the smoke coming off it wouldn't be half as bad... (Although, if someone would actually build that, it would be reported as 'Western company builds world's dirtiest recycling plant in Ghana').

All of the west's needs to remain in the west. (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 8 months ago | (#46366899)

First off, it is not right to pollute all over. We are killing all sorts of ppl, and wildlife.
BUT, just as big of a reason is that there are a large number of elements in these. These can be burned safely with the waste heat used for thermal electricity, and then the elements are saved off by. Heck, we paid for them once, and with recycling here, we can make use of these.
Regardless, it is time to pass a law barring any shipping off of e-waste to other undeveloped nations.

I laugh at recycling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46366931)

People who think they are saving the World are fooling themselves with this recycling. Talk to any waste disposal company and find out how much is actually recycled. The material has to be wanted for it to get put back into products. Much of tech devices still end up in some dump somewhere. Maybe without the proper burial regulations that the US has for hazards.
So it get's buried somewhere else, I guess the "green" people in the US can have a feel good moment, but it does not mean someone is paying the price.
Its very much like the nuclear waste in Mexico, yea put a material that is over 50% toxic for thousands of years in devices that will keep it safe for less then 100 years. Makes sense right?

eWaste documentary - Agbogbloshie (2)

sugarpony (106326) | about 8 months ago | (#46367049)

To add to the imagery and stories we see in the posts above, a friend of mine recently went to Agbogbloshie to film a documentary about damage being done, to connect with the people who's live are impacted by this environmental atrocity. A trailer for the documentary has been cut and is available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_610iyt_HA

It is a good thing that here on slashdot, its relevance is being shown to the perfect audience. We need/must to do something about this.
The question I have, is, how do we band together to help bring this to the attention of the masses and stop this type of dumping across the globe ?

Re:eWaste documentary - Agbogbloshie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46367261)

I saw a solution to this in a documentary once. I haven't checked their references yet but they seemed to be legit:

Bart: We'd need the ultimate chillout song.
Ralph: And fast!

NSYNC arrives at the carrier via speedboat.

Lance: We heard what you said.
Joey: Yeah, heard it OLD SCHOOL!
Millhouse: It's *NSYNC!
Justin: Can the chit-chat Millhouse; we got just the song to diffuse this whack attack.
Joey: Yeah, diffuse it OLD SCHOOL!

It must be returned to whomever profited from it (2)

jtoj (537440) | about 8 months ago | (#46367463)

Must be returned and recycled exactly where it came from.
Ghana does not make/assemble/profit from eletronics industry.
Return it to whomever profited the most from it.
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