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Digital Waste Worth More Than Gold, Copper Ore

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the but-then-there's-the-cadmium dept.

Businesses 302

tcd004 writes "Imagine sheer mountains of discarded Pentium IIIs, tractor trailers overflowing with discarded wall warts. Photojournalist Natalie Behring visited Guiyu, China and documented the world's biggest digital dump where, for $2 per day, the locals sort, disassemble, and pulverize hundreds of tons of e-waste. The payoff is huge: computer waste contains 17 times more gold than gold ore, 40 times more copper than copper ore. But the detritus also leaches chemicals and metals into local water supplies."

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Imagine a digital dump (4, Funny)

nmoog (701216) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205433)

1s and 0s as far as the eye can see!

Re:Imagine a digital dump (4, Funny)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205685)

I think I saw a 2

Re:Imagine a digital dump (1)

ookabooka (731013) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205925)

Thats odd, I saw what looked to be a superposition of 0 and 1.

Re:Imagine a digital dump (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19206029)

Don't worry Kris_J, there's no such thing as 2.

Re:Imagine a digital dump (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19206119)

10

Re:Imagine a digital dump (0, Redundant)

nEoN nOoDlE (27594) | more than 7 years ago | (#19206301)

There's no such thing as 2!

Re:Imagine a digital dump (2, Informative)

zaguar (881743) | more than 7 years ago | (#19206373)

Futurama Quote:

Bender: Ahhh, what an awful dream. Ones and zeroes everywhere... and I thought I saw a two.
Fry: Don't worry, Bender: there's no such thing as two.

Re:Imagine a digital dump (1)

G-funk (22712) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205713)

<bender> I think I saw a 2 </bender>

For sale (5, Funny)

Mr2cents (323101) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205831)

Ok, if anyone is interested, I have tons of used 1's and 0's in my basement. They're pre-sorted. I'm willing to sell them for 2 cents/kilobit.

The bits will be sent to you as a self-extracting executable.

Re:Imagine a digital dump (5, Funny)

digitig (1056110) | more than 7 years ago | (#19206069)

I always wondered what /dev/null actually looked like!

Re:Imagine a digital dump (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19206127)

> /dev/null

We rule. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19205447)

Heh, look at all those motherboards.

Fuck do we ever rock.

Environmentally irresponsibility (4, Funny)

nmoog (701216) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205463)

If you say that it's environmentally irresponsibility to throw away computer equipment, your girlfriend can't get mad that you've got a cluster of Amiga2000s making your house look like a digital dump.

Re:Environmentally irresponsibility (5, Funny)

nmoog (701216) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205505)

Oh cut and paste. My good friend and bitterly enemy.

Re:Environmentally irresponsibility (1)

ACE209 (1067276) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205589)

yup - and her next birthday present will be a bracelet of microchips.
17 times more gold than gold ore - best gift ever.

Re:Environmentally irresponsibility (1)

TheSoggyCow (1052136) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205615)

I don't know what's wrong with the world... My Celeron 466 is still alive and kicking. Its still top of the line!
--
Moo, Moo, Moo

Re:Environmentally irresponsibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19206011)

Girlfriends and Clusters of Amiga2000s are mutually exclusive.

Re:Environmentally irresponsibility (5, Funny)

QuickFox (311231) | more than 7 years ago | (#19206129)

Girlfriends and Clusters of Amiga2000s are mutually exclusive.
I realize that by asking what this means I'll lose every single geek point I might have had, as I reveal my ignorance about some arcane technology that is undoubtedly known to every geek in the Universe except me, but still I have to ask: What's a Girlfriend?

Re:Environmentally irresponsibility (5, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19206377)

What's a Girlfriend?

If I remember my Spanish right, it's the English word for "Amiga".

Re:Environmentally irresponsibility (1)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | more than 7 years ago | (#19206445)

"What's a Girlfriend?"

Well, her name is Lara Croft and she's from out of town.

Years ago I saw this on Discovery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19205483)

Years ago I saw this on a Discovery documentary. It was surprising how much gold they got out of old electronic junk. Perhaps we should sen all our discarded computers to third world countries (emergency aid, ya know), so that they can disassemble them and sell them back to us for a penny.

I'll start on a letter to Bush.

Good for them (4, Insightful)

unkaggregate (855265) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205519)

Finding a good use for old parts. They're better than most people I know who throw away a whole computer just because the latest software won't run on it. And if they can alleviate any toxic seepage into the soils doing so even better.

It's kind of sad though that environmental laws here, even though they mean well, ultimately make it too costly for us to recycle PCs here compared to China.

Re:Good for them (5, Insightful)

demon driver (1046738) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205661)

It's not so much environmental laws, it's the low wages which generate manual jobs in countries like China, where, by the way, unemployment is an even greater problem than in the western world, and so is the pressure on people to get any jobs there are, even if it's going to ruin their health and shorten their lives drastically.

And regarding both environmental and social standards it would be rather short-sighted to further lower our western standards only to be more competitive to countries which are even more exploitative towards both environment and populace. Instead, efforts should go in the direction of installing world-wide minimum standards in both regards...

Re:Good for them (2, Informative)

speculatrix (678524) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205721)

take a look at The Undercover Economist [amazon.co.uk] where he discusses the sweat shops in the Philippines and other developing nations; for many people it truly is a decision between working in awful conditions vs starving (or taking even worse work, such as in the sex trade), and that usually western-run sweat shops are actually much better than local ones and drive up wages and improve working conditions by offering choice, and therefore as the competition for workers increases they get treated better.

The true irony of this situation (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#19206185)

Is that you can help people and make a bundle of money at the same time.

Instead of "investing" your money in a bank account at 1% below the rate of inflation, buy some unit trusts (funds in the US I think) which invest in the developing world. (It's good practice to diversify anyway) You'll get a 10-20% return and you'll be pushing money into these developing economies, increasing employment and ultimately improving working conditions.

 

Re:Good for them (5, Interesting)

dave_boo (1089337) | more than 7 years ago | (#19206255)

So another person that's wanting to apply their morality on someone else. Sex work is one of the oldest professions. If you'd have a girlfriend, you know that you have to pay. Same thing if you visit a hooker. How many slashdot geeks don't have a girlfriend because they're living in mommy's basement? All woman want security. If they can't provide for it themself, they want to make sure their mate can. Those that practice prostitution, especially in the South East Asian part of our world are just more open about it.

Take for instance my inlaws. Starting with my wife's parents. They are from up country, near Nakhon Sawan, and have, for the area, a successful life. They are farmer, raise cattle, and manufacture wooden goods such as chairs, tables, and doors. Now, even with all this income, due to the economic enviroment they're in, it's not enough. So their two daughters went to Bangkok to find work. I met my wife working in a 7-11, where about 5000 THB($143) a month. Her sister got a job working in a metal factory. She's only making 6000 THB($172) a month. Now, if you figure that rent will cost you around 3000 THB($86) a month (that includes utilities--but don't be expecting to run the air con or have more than a single room and forget about hot water), you're left with 3000 THB($86). Even if you sent NO money home, that leaves you with 100 Bhat($3) a day. Granted, you can take on roomates, but with the aforementioned living conditions, how many can you realistically accomodate? Let's say you take on 1 roomate. That lowers you monthly expenses for the room to 1500 bhat($43), leaving you with 4500 THB($129). So you're now looking at 150 THB($4) a day. Still not much, but if you could live on 100 THB($3) a day, you can send home 1500 THB($43) a month.

Now, they have 2 younger brothers. Both are in school, but they have to pay. The older one's school is 6000 THB($172), and the younger is 3000 THB($86). The family is very much into making this sacrifice because they don't wish for the boys to live the same life that they've been subjected to. So, just for making the payments, the family needs to come up with 9000 THB($257) every month. This doesn't cover room and board for the older one either. Add in costs raised from just living, you can see that money is always tight. The fact that farming is a seasonal income does absolutely nothing to improve their situation. I've been trying to get them to become more reliant on the furniture making portion of their life, possibly paying workers to man their fields, but they're stubborn old people. Add in the constant bill paying, house upkeep, taxes (government has to get their share!).

I've taken over the responsibilty of paying for their educations. This has been a huge financial boon for the family. I was truly appalled at the teaching conditions in their old shool. It was practically rote learning, which I hate with a passion. If you can't teach someone to learn on their own, they aren't learning.

But I digress. Going back to the prostitution business. A girl can work in a bar and make anywhere from 500 THB(14) to 3000 THB($86) a night. Obviously, the more they sling their "goods", the more they make. Not only that, some even end up with sponsors (which I never understood) who pay for them not to continue working. Quite a few of those with sponsors continue working in the bars, so not only do they have a steady income from some foreign sponsor, but continue to make money on an almost daily basis going with customers. Do they need to do this. Obviously not. Does it make more money for family. Assuredly. I wouldn't expect someone who is not of Asian origin to fully understand the ties between family (I'm not Asian, so I can't understand it fully, but I respect it), but the duty that people feel for taking care of their family is real. Everyone takes jobs they wouldn't necessarily agree with, but make more money for them.

The culture also doesn't stigmatise prostitution like most Western ones do. And before you get into the sex slavery, it goes on everywhere. The penalties here in Thailand are much worst than other places. Going to India can net you more examples than you can find here. Even Cambodia, the darling of NGOs, has less problems with it than quite a few other countries (Arabic countries being amongst the worst). However, it's easier for the West to go after countries in this reason for moral deviations than it is to antagonise other countries such as the oil rich Middle East or cheap labour India.

My wife never worked in a bar. In fact for a while she was hesitant to take me home to see the family, due to the fact that there are girls from her are who had gone down to Bangkok and Pattaya and worked in the bars. They had than brought old, dirty, obvious sex tourists home to see their families. Eventually we made our way up there and after determining that she hadn't found me sticking my salami in as many holes as possible, I was accepted in the village.

Re:Good for them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19206295)

or taking even worse work, such as in the sex trade


*blinks* The sex trade can't be as bad as starving, or working as slave labor. It wouldn't exist or be as deplorable if it wasn't for European and American patrons who spurred the growth of the industry in the first place.

Vietnam war veterans I'm sure all have stories (which they probably won't tell) about the Vietnamese whorehouses that were built and set up exclusively to service them.

Re:Good for them (5, Insightful)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205915)

Instead, efforts should go in the direction of installing world-wide minimum standards in both regards...
How about a law demanding that goods may not be imported, if they were manufactured under conditions that would not be acceptable in the destination country?

Re:Good for them (4, Insightful)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 7 years ago | (#19206121)

> How about a law demanding that goods may not be imported, if they were manufactured under conditions that would not be acceptable in the destination country?

How about a law that would ban US imports in France (and other european countries) because the poor American workers have to work for more than 35 hours a week?

Re:Good for them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19206177)

Not to mention that many of them don't even get 14 days paid vacation. The sort of law that the grandparent suggested would basically make importing illegal.

Re:Good for them (5, Interesting)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 7 years ago | (#19206271)

No it wouldn't. It would, however, level the playing field. Manufacturing industry in the West can't hope to compete with third-world countries where they get away with things like not paying workers a decent wage, having them work in dangerous or unsanitary conditions, or polluting the environment. Why is it OK to treat Chinese workers like that but not British, European or American workers?

Re:Good for them (2)

BlackGriffen (521856) | more than 7 years ago | (#19206311)

Maybe, but you could also impose tariffs. Certainly impose them to a balancing degree, and possibly to a punitive degree.

I see no reason to let them profit because American's are on the whole too lazy to bother with the well being of overseas workers.

Re:Good for them (1)

tcopeland (32225) | more than 7 years ago | (#19206399)

> because the poor American workers have to work for more than 35 hours a week?

This reminds me of a quote by a Communist worker from the excellent book Wild Swans [amazon.com] :

"How can you even think about such things [in this context, asking a girl out on a date] while the capitalists in America are living in an abyss of misery?"

This was around the times of the hideous (and Mao-imposed) famines in the Great Leap Forward.

Re:Good for them (2, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#19206139)

Instead, efforts should go in the direction of installing world-wide minimum standards in both regards...
What're you? 10 years old? Tell you what, lets make full employment compulsory while we're at it so that everyone in the world has a job and make the minimum wage $100/hour so that nobody in the world is poor. It would be just as successful.

 

Re:Good for them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19205731)

My boss asked me to come over to her house to setup her new computer. I helped her set it up and asked why she got a new one. She got a new one because it was running too slow. It was full of spyware and other crap. This was almost a year ago now.

It was a 3Ghz computer with 200gb of hd and 1gb of ram. Her new one was better then that and I cant remember the specs.

See even bought a new laptop not too long ago because the fan was too loud.

It would be nice to have money like that.

I get a new computer every 5 years if I'm lucky...

Re:Good for them (1)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205819)

She got a new one because it was running too slow. It was full of spyware and other crap. This was almost a year ago now.
Did you tell her that the old one was beyond repair - dangerous, in fact - and offer to [wink] safely dispose of it for her?

Re:Good for them (1)

Mr2cents (323101) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205895)

My father's boss recently bought a new laptop because his old one was constantly crashing, even after reinstalling windows. I asked if I could have a look at this laptop, opened it up and dusted it out. It hasn't crashed since.

I gave it back with ubuntu installed on it, and they're still using it. (my good deed this year).

Re:Good for them (1)

MichailS (923773) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205789)

And ironically, it is apparently not "costly" as there is apparently a net profit to be made.

I'm thinking this of nuclear waste as well - in the future, our descendants will curse us for hiding that sweet burned-out fuel so deep...

Re:Good for them (1)

ArmedGeek (562115) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205969)

Note that the workers are paid $2 per day. In the US you'd have to pay at least $5.75 (or whatever minimum wage is) per hour. Profitable ? Not so much.

Re:Good for them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19205853)

www.freegeek.org

Read please.

Re:Good for them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19206051)

aye...at some point, industry takes a backseat to having healthy citizens.

The shipbreaking essay is pretty sweet too (5, Informative)

tcd004 (134130) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205523)

anyone who can dismantle supertankers [foreignpolicy.com] with their bare hands deserves some respect.

Re:The shipbreaking essay is pretty sweet too (1)

Darth Turbogeek (142348) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205567)

Sounds like some weird superpower or mutant ability.

But poor joke aside, that's amazing - I had no idea they broke apart ships like that

"Shipbreakers" the documentary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19205747)

neither did I, until I saw a decent documentary [imdb.com] on it, that focuses on shipbreaking in the Gujurat region of India. Unfortunately I can't find any pieces of the documentary online, but there is a CBS 60 minutes segment on shipbreaking on http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-620230815 8044631485&q=shipbreakers [slashdot.org] ">google video.

Re:"Shipbreakers" the documentary (1)

packeteer (566398) | more than 7 years ago | (#19206421)

Link broken, try this one. [google.com]

It's an interesting video BTW.

Re:The shipbreaking essay is pretty sweet too (3, Informative)

value_added (719364) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205637)

anyone who can dismantle supertankers with their bare hands deserves some respect.

Not a Chinese story, but an Indian one. ;-) IIRC, there was PBS/Frontline type of special not too long on the subject. The supertanker dismantling was featured, but so was a program run by an Indian scientist of some sort that involved the disassembly and salvage of computers and computer parts. It was interesting to note how large and well run the operation was. The owner, keenly aware of both the monetary value and the environmental hazards of the work, was sympathetic to the workers but made it clear that despite the nature of the work and the few dollars per day they earned, his employees would have no work whatsoever. I guess happiness is where you find it.

Re:The shipbreaking essay is pretty sweet too (1)

Nexx (75873) | more than 7 years ago | (#19206337)

Actually, the link GP posted was from Bangladesh ;)

Re:The shipbreaking essay is pretty sweet too (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19206343)

The owner, keenly aware of both the monetary value and the environmental hazards of the work, was sympathetic to the workers but made it clear that despite the nature of the work and the few dollars per day they earned, his employees would have no work whatsoever [if this job was not available]

  Yeah, that's the usual platitude in defense of sweatshops. That it's the "best alternative of a bad lot."

  Thing is, the people who use this line usually don't mention why the other choices are so few and so bad. It's due to economic policy and the pressure of foreign multinationals to "modernize" the economy of third world nations, and it's nothing new.
  Back in England there was a thing called 'The Enclosure of the Commons.' This was a period when the people of England had their self-subsistence systematically taken away from them by force of law. New rules took away rights to previously public land and put restrictions on personal gardening on small plots, so people who previously grew their own food or traded with their neighbors were suddenly forced to buy at the markets, which required money, which meant getting a job, probably at a factory. It was frequently justified at the time by letters written by wealthy industrialists (who, in a completely unrelated fact, were having a hard time getting a self-sufficient people of artisans, craftsmen, and farmers to come in and apply for jobs in factories for pennies a week) claiming that leisure-time was bad for people and would lead the commoners to crime and wickedness and perhaps even revolutionary politics. (Gasp!)
  Similar things have happened and are happening all over the world. People have their traditional way of life destroyed, their self-sufficiency ripped away from them, and in the end, are given the 'free choice' of hard labor in a sweatshop or dying of starvation. ...and we're supposed to applaud that?

  There's a good post on Kevin Carson's Mutualist blog on the whole 'Sweatshops Ain't So Bad!' argument over here. [blogspot.com] No, I'm not affiliated, actually I'm more of a red anarchist sort than a mutualist, but damned if he isn't one of the smartest people writing on the internet.

Re:The shipbreaking essay is pretty sweet too (1)

tcopeland (32225) | more than 7 years ago | (#19206449)

> anyone who can dismantle supertankers with their bare hands

Looks like even they have their standards [blogs.com] , though.

I remember seeing these container ships cruise by - our Coast Guard ship would be going north at 12-13 kts and they'd be going south at 40 kts... lots of mass and lots of relative velocity there. Even with a CPA of a mile they were pretty impressive.

Where have I heard this before? (2, Funny)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205529)

... the world's biggest digital dump ...

Bender, is that you?

Re:Where have I heard this before? (2, Funny)

revengebomber (1080189) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205575)

Hey! Melting down those broken robots is just wrong! Especially when they're sucking up to me like that!

Now I Ain't Saying She a Golddigger (1)

SpeedyDX (1014595) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205537)

This is literally taking gold digging to a whole other level.

Breaking news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19205543)

We just isolated the source of the pet food contamination. The chinks were poisoning our animals with discarded computer waste!

Nooooo! (1)

shakestheclown (887041) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205559)

Set those old machines to fold you insensitive bastards!

Re:Nooooo! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19205741)

My father was a bastard, you insensitive clod!

Re:Nooooo! (1)

QuickFox (311231) | more than 7 years ago | (#19206195)

My father was a clod, you insensitive oaf!

Re:Nooooo! (1)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 7 years ago | (#19206287)

I, for one, salute our new insensitive clod bastard oaf overlords!

Clods. (1)

sid0 (1062444) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205995)

Clods. Insensitive clods.

Who cares about the gold and copper? (3, Insightful)

BooleanLobster (1077727) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205577)

As far as I know, the value of the metals inside electronic waste is only a couple dollars per ton of waste. Some electronic waste recycling companies have found that it is much more profitable to resell things that still work (at roughly 90% discounts), and extract the working components from things that don't.

Re:Who cares about the gold and copper? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19205599)

Then, pray tell, what do you think they should do with the non-working components?

I don't think you truly appreciate a) the real worth of gold and copper b) the amount of material that can be extracted & c) the amount of material & cheap labour they have to extract the material. It's easy money.

Re:Who cares about the gold and copper? (5, Interesting)

dreddnott (555950) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205705)

I used to work for an electronics recycling company, trueCycle [truecycle.com] .

Not the most scrupulous incorporation in the high desert, but we processed a LOT.

A good day would have us processing 10 tons (20,000 pounds) of various electronics, most of it selling to final-stage processors for $0.10 to somewhere $1.00 per pound, depending on which gaylord (motherboards, transformers, glass, CPUs, HDDs, etc) and of course the fluctuations in the volatile commodities market.

The biggest cash cow, of course, was leaded CRT glass - thanks to SB20 and SB50, our processing of CRT glass was subsidised and we received a flat rate of $0.48 per pound on just that, smashed or not smashed. This was lucrative due to the commonality of monitors and the density of the glass, as well as the fact that at any given time we had 10 guys with clawhammers and pneumatic screwdrivers absolutely tearing everything up that I let them get their hands on.

I worked as Quality Assurance, assessing pallets as they came in and rescuing the good stuff, as well as miscellaneous server and network administration work. You know, the usual stuff when your department knows more about computers than the entire rest of the company, which happened to be too cheap for a dedicated IT staff and commensurate payroll. While I did indeed fix up more than a few computers for eBay and local buyers, the 90% discount and the general poor condition of incoming electronics as well as poor working conditions, chronic understaffing, and a tragic lack of space made resurrecting computers a very small portion of the revenue stream.

Selling components was a lot more successful, and I always argued for doing this with my coworkers and supervisors. We would sell hundreds of thoroughly-tested HDDs, video cards, RAM sticks, and CPUs of all types at a time. It amazed me at the time (2005-2006) to see how many people were still interested in 10GB drives, 64MB PC100 sticks, and GeForce2 MX cards.

My favourite part of the job, however, was finding and rescuing antique/vintage computing equipment [photobucket.com] . The contract with Dreamworks was also pretty exciting, although 99% of it ended up as unrecognisable scrap. I found myself face to face with an SGI Iris 4D and an even larger system in bad shape that I could not identify, as well as several battered workstations (one labeled "FOONLY" in obvious homage).

Re:Who cares about the gold and copper? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19205967)

depending on which gaylord (motherboards
Umm, lol what?

Re:Who cares about the gold and copper? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19206323)

A good day would have us processing 10 tons (20,000 pounds) of various electronics
20 000 pounds is actually 8 tons, 18 cwt, 4 stone, 8 lbs. That's quite a way shy of ten tons. So which was it?

Re:Who cares about the gold and copper? (2, Informative)

HappyEngineer (888000) | more than 7 years ago | (#19206375)

There are several definitions of "ton". One of those definitions is that a ton is exactly 2000 lbs. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ton [wikipedia.org]

Dang... (2, Funny)

EraseEraseMe (167638) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205591)

...computer waste contains 17 times more gold than gold ore, 40 times more copper than copper ore...

I'm lucky if I get 4 Thorium ore from one mine :( I think I'm going to have to level up recycling.

Get rich and generate endless energy... (1)

mrThorne (839033) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205765)

If you read the article, it says "One ton of computer scrap contains more gold than 17 tons of gold ore." This is the solution to the world's power needs...

Re:Get rich and generate endless energy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19205927)

if you had understood his gaming reference maybe the comment would not have gone straight over your head.

I recycle (1)

maroberts (15852) | more than 7 years ago | (#19206275)

I buy my ore from the AH, and resell it at a suitably extortionate price.

Quick solution : out of sight, out of mind (3, Insightful)

2Bits (167227) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205625)

This is a sad situation where rich countries just dump their toxic wastes to the poor countries. It's a quick solution, and does not cause much (if any?) local political discussion. Out of sight, out of mind.

Unfortunately, this is a very irresponsible way to dispose off the toxic waste. Sure, the rich can claim that it is actually beneficial to the local economy in the poor countries. As the article mentioned, some dump site employs as many as 100,000 people. And sure, it's a global economy, meaning that anything can be "exported".

But, have we ever considered the consequences to the planet as a whole? After all, this planet belongs to everyone, and we should take up the responsibility to protect it better. The rich countries have the proper means and resources to handle the wastes better than the poor countries. But instead, we all chose the easy way out: we just let the poor poison the planet. It's currently poisoning China's, India's and Nigeria's backyard, so that America, Europe, Japan etc, can have their own little clean and green lawn.

Guess what happens when they run out of dumping ground? I visited a site a couple of years ago. I happened to ask what they would do in this case. The foreman said:"Easy, there are plenty of fishermen out of job, as the fish stock is running out. They would be happy to help us dump into the ocean." Ha, same attitude as to how the rich get rid off their wastes.

Good to know that we are all alike, rich or poor. Eventually, it will come to bite us all back from behind. Happy dumping, everyone.

Re:Quick solution : out of sight, out of mind (3, Interesting)

will_die (586523) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205687)

People are not dumping this stuff on theses countries, thoses countries are paying for all this scrap.
The larger of the recycling places actually have people going all around the world tring to purchase large quantities.
The question is do the richer country act as big brother and say they will not sell the items to theses poorer countries?

Re:Quick solution : out of sight, out of mind (1)

mythar (1085839) | more than 7 years ago | (#19206233)

i don't think you quite understood what was going on in the pictures. those people weren't just wallowing in e-waste; they were trying to recycle the stuff.

what about the big picture, you might ask? while it's nice to raise awareness about this particular issue, it's pretty naive to think that if only there was some legislation passed in the US, then your chinese foreman wouldn't be dumping waste into the ocean. we rich countries can pass all the environmental laws we want, but if we want developing countries to follow the same standards, we either have to march troops in, or persuade them to enact their own environmental laws. if you want to consider consequences to the planet, remember that the US is only 4.53% of the world's population. imagine if say.. 37.29% of the world's population decided that they too wanted to experience strong economic growth with little or no environmental regulation. awareness will only take you so far.

Re:Quick solution : out of sight, out of mind (1)

wathiant (968373) | more than 7 years ago | (#19206259)

TIP: Penn&Teller: Bullshit! episode 2-5: recycling. That should get rid of some of the false preconceptions that you have. Also, in our past we (the western countries) have dumped lots of toxic materials in our own countries and we have managed to either contain most of the problems or even clean up the affected ground. Current dumps are pretty safe and bound by strong regulations. The 'poor' countries are simply a few decades behind, but they're catching up quickly and will take care of their own backyard soon.

Uh-oh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19205635)

They better watch out.... I think Microsoft has some prior art on that whole "digital dump" concept...

dupe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19205671)

Don't we already have like a million stories about Chinese goldfarmers? Oh wait...

So where are computers made? (1)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205689)

In China.

Digital waste (1)

Bromskloss (750445) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205735)

...are the files I delete. This is just electronics.

Pure Evil (0, Offtopic)

fan of lem (1092395) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205775)

But the detritus also leaches chemicals and metals into local water supplies.

They actually do that on purpose to achieve the ultimate Evil Villain rep. Plus they rape your cats on the side.

Robbing the Grave (1)

Smight (1099639) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205787)

Is melting down dead computers for their trace gold content more or less ethical than melting down dead humans for their gold fillings?

On the one hand, computers are full of heavy metals and chlorine. On the other hand, Humans are 65% water, which is apparently the most greenhousy of the greenhouse gases.

Old story (1, Troll)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205795)

Isn't this story from several years back?

Or is this just the annual repeat of a "look how evil the Unites States is" story?

Re:Old story (1)

gnud (934243) | more than 7 years ago | (#19206199)

Well, if it's from some years back, it's a 'have you done anything about it yet you slob'-story =)

corporate greed (0, Flamebait)

peas_n_carrots (1025360) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205807)

This is what happens when corporations are allowed to circumvent the moral and ethical fabric of our country. It's what happens when Bush & cronies overturn environmental laws for the sake of special interest profits. Ironically, those same clowns try to claim that they're the beacons of morality in this country. They will burn, karma will be served.

Thankfully, the ROHS initiative has significantly reduced or eliminated heavy metals and toxic chemicals in electronics. The 3rd world population should be grateful for that industry initiative. There's still a long line of non-ROHS equipment that's heading to the scrapheap, but at least after a few years it will have been processed through.

ROHS? (1)

phalse phace (454635) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205835)

For those who don't know what ROHS [wikipedia.org] is....

Re:corporate greed (1)

MassiveForces (991813) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205841)

They're not bypassing the moral and ethical fabric of any country, they're bypassing the right of workers to complain and have power to enforce their rights

This is amusing (1)

Invalid Character (788952) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205847)

We pay the Chinese to make all our electronics.
We use them.
We pay them to recycle it and they get to keep all the goodies from the process.


Something seems wrong here...

Re:This is amusing (3, Insightful)

gigne (990887) | more than 7 years ago | (#19206053)

They actually pay to buy our scrap. They own it. It is up to them if they want to harvest it for the goodies. We have no right to complain here.

Stupidity (2, Insightful)

Eivind (15695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205861)

This article makes no sense whatsoever.

Even if it is true that computer-trash contains 17 times the gold, compared to gold-ore, it does not follow that it is "worth more", that would be true only if getting the raw-material, handling it and extracting the valuable metals cost precisely the same. Which ain't likely.

You also don't find all that many million-ton piles of computer-scrap just sitting around.

Another Communist Post (2, Informative)

Proto23 (931154) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205901)

Another communist post. The article says they earn $2-$4 per day that means $730-$1460 per year. With the average Chinese salary being between $300 (rural) - $700 (city), I say it's a pretty decent job which you can see by the clothes they wear on the pictures. Sure it is toxic but so are many of China's jobs. As were ours 100 years ago.

Thoughts on recycling (4, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#19205905)

Since 1965, I have been a recyler (cub scouts and boy scouts). Generally, it is paper, glass, and metal. It always struck me as the right thing to do. But the other day it dawned on me that it might be a mistake to do some of this. In particular for the metals. Paper, plastics, and glass will decay if they are not recycled, so it makes good sense to do them right away. But metals are a different issue. It struck me that we might wish to consider simply putting them in a dump for future use. The reason is that somewhere down the road, a number of metals will be very expensive. One example is copper. A number of mines will be used up (much sooner rather than later). While China is about to have 1-2 major copper mines come on-line (in Tibet, they have found a number of resources which is why they actually built the Tibetan railroad), in general, copper has been massively extracted. Within my lifetime, copper is going to head towards being VERY valuable. It seems that it would benefit the countries to garbage dump any waste and then work on creating GOOD extraction approaches. The idea of paying to ship our electronic "waste" to other countries has to be one of the most ludicrous actions that the west takes.

Re:Thoughts on recycling (2, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19206397)

You are aware that you're talking about people who think the "future" is what they write in their quarter-year report or how they get reelected in up to 4 years, yes?

The world's biggest digital dump (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19205991)

I told you not to look in my garage!

Imagine (0, Offtopic)

jlebrech (810586) | more than 7 years ago | (#19206037)

A beowulf cluster of those.

As I said before, wait til the digital TV switch (2, Informative)

NeuroManson (214835) | more than 7 years ago | (#19206073)

With all the people who'll be dumping their old analog sets, this is where it'll all go (the wire wraps alone would be highly desirable).

Re:As I said before, wait til the digital TV switc (1)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 7 years ago | (#19206379)

Only the sets with no SCART sockets. If your set has a SCART socket (and most have two or more nowadays), you can just plug a digital decoder straight into it. The socket labelled AV1 usually accepts RGB, which will give the absolute best picture.

what's the alternative? (3, Insightful)

nanosquid (1074949) | more than 7 years ago | (#19206089)

I suspect that gold mining itself does a lot more damage than this kind of recycling. And what are the alternatives? Dump it into a dump and not recycle it? That will leach even more toxic metals into the ground. Or stop producing electronics altogether?

I think it's good that this stuff is being recycled at all. We should now focus on:

-- reducing the amount of heavy metals we put into electronics

-- improving the safety and working conditions of the people doing the recycling

-- redesigning electronics to reduce overall waste and make parts easier to recycle

-- making sure that more electronics reach those countries in working order (open hardware standards and increasing compatibility can help with that)

I'm such an addict (2, Funny)

vell0cet (1055494) | more than 7 years ago | (#19206113)

Did anyone else read the title and think it was about World of Warcraft?

No (1)

maroberts (15852) | more than 7 years ago | (#19206297)

Because from experience I've found that Gold doesn't really shift in the markets.

Copper, Bronze and Silver (if you can get your hands on it) are great. Also being green and recycling End of Life magical items through disenchanting.

American Grammar (1)

sqldr (838964) | more than 7 years ago | (#19206135)

The spelling happened at a troubled time, but was it REALLY such a pain to use the word "or" instead of a comma?

The title sounds like "copper ore" is a celebratory slogan. Basically, the author of the article sounds like an idiot.

The payoff? (2, Interesting)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 7 years ago | (#19206393)

According to the submitter "The payoff is huge: computer waste contains 17 times more gold than gold ore ..."

What a load of bullshit. If the payoff was "huge", why would companies pay to have it taken away to China? Gold ore is much easier to process in bulk from fairly homogeneous rock than trying to extract it from a pile of metal, plastic and glass components. Gold ore is anything from 0.5 ppm up, so this "17 times" is a meaningless figure. At best, it means a few grammes of gold per tonne of hardware. How many hundreds of manhours would it take to break it down and separate out the tiny scrapings of gold from electrical contacts? Copper is more easily scavenged from wiring and power supplies.

Mirror? (1)

Ceriel Nosforit (682174) | more than 7 years ago | (#19206407)

The images seem to be 404ing, with Mirrordot only giving the image on the first page. Mirror for the rest if them, anyone?
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