Some call it “bridging the digital divide” and “helping the poor.” However, a recent New York Times article posts a different opinion on the afterlife of the millions of American cellphones junked each year.
As the slightly used cellphones pile up, women and children of developing countries burn mountains of e-waste, smash batteries and cook circuit boards to extract any precious metals they can. They then sell their findings to recycling merchants for a few measly dollars.
The lax e-waste recycling regulations in these developing countries make for a toxic nightmare!
“The World Health Organization reports that even a low level of exposure to lead, cadmium and mercury (all of which can be found in old phones) can cause irreversible neurological damage and threaten the development of a child.”
Developing countries are organizing rallies to prevent becoming a “digital dump” to industrial countries that are creating loopholes to bypass e-waste policies set forth in the Basel Action Network (BAN)-Basel Convention.
According to RecyclingPortal BAN also believes that it would be more important for the protection of the environment if manufacturers would make efforts to create non-toxic components, readily up-gradable hardware and longer-lived products.”
Unfortunately, most cellphone manufactures do not have ‘design for disassembly‘ on their minds.
It is becoming the duty of millions of Americans and electronics recyclers who own and dispose of the cellphones poisoning developing countries to press for responsible recycling.