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!

What Happens to Australia's E-Waste

timothy posted about 4 years ago | from the as-long-as-you-keep-it-down-under dept.

Australia 78

lukehopewell1 writes "Aussies recycle several million tonnes of computers, TVs, mobile phones and other e-waste every year, with the number set to skyrocket over the next decade. ZDNet Australia takes an extended look into what happens to your devices when you're done with them. Take a peek inside the e-waste recycling process and find out what happens to your tech when it goes off to the wreckers."

cancel ×

78 comments

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

I'll save you the time.... (1)

clockwise_music (594832) | about 4 years ago | (#33632926)

The answer is: Fence Posts.

Re:I'll save you the time.... (1, Insightful)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | about 4 years ago | (#33632948)

Check it yourself [ban.org] ...

It's still fucking incredible that today's people don't consider the amount of soiled water and burnt energies to create the newest piece of shit they'll stare at condescendingly in just a few months.

Guess what? You're fucking iPads are not revolutionary, it's a niche.

Re:I'll save you the time.... (1)

neonmonk (467567) | about 4 years ago | (#33633412)

I'm not fucking iPads!

Re:I'll save you the time.... (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | about 4 years ago | (#33633364)

Better than letting African children rip out the wires, let them burn the plastic off on open fields while they get a good taste of the chemicals, and resell the copper for a few cents. But I guess Africa is further away from Australia than Europe...

I hate that sort of terminology (2, Informative)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 4 years ago | (#33632966)

It's not "e-waste" - it's regular old waste (aka garbage), just like old cars, dead light bulbs, and anything else that's discarded in the physical world.

As annoying as putting an "e" in front of everything already is, at least there's usually some degree of logic to it - it's all about the difference between a physical item or an electronically transmitted item. If your internet service provider sends you a paper bill though the postal service, it's not an "e-bill" just because it's tangentially related to the internet. It's only an e-bill if it's sent to you electronically. And "e-waste" would be waste in the electronic realm - maybe your e-mail trash would qualify, or old out-of-date web pages that are sitting there, forgotten and unlinked.

Re:I hate that sort of terminology (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33632978)

It's special in that computers depreciate to 0 dollars in 2 years.

So we are often faced with the choice of upgrade or wait.

Hence it is nice to know what the consequences of upgrades are.

Re:I hate that sort of terminology (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33633014)

It's special in that computers depreciate to 0 dollars in 2 years.

So we are often faced with the choice of upgrade or wait.

Hence it is nice to know what the consequences of upgrades are.

dang it, i just said they depreciate to $0 over 3 years when writing my yr 11 yearly test.

Re:I hate that sort of terminology (1)

skegg (666571) | about 4 years ago | (#33633324)

You're not necessarily wrong: depending on the situation, we (Australians) get to depreciate some assets (including computers) over 3 years, so hopefully the person marking your test will read it that way.

Having said that, there would most likely be some residual resale value after 3 years, even if they are worth $0 on the books.

Good luck in your exam.

Re:I hate that sort of terminology (1)

m50d (797211) | about 4 years ago | (#33634208)

Plenty of other things (e.g. cars) are pretty similar in that regard though.

Re:I hate that sort of terminology (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33632984)

Keep up-to-date grandpa. I think today's hip term is 'virtual'. So in this instance your email trash should be called 'virtual waste'...I like how that works on more than one level too

Re:I hate that sort of terminology (2, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 4 years ago | (#33633270)

Keep up-to-date grandpa. I think today's hip term is 'virtual'. So in this instance your email trash should be called 'virtual waste'...I like how that works on more than one level too

Call it what you want - just stay off my lawn!

Re:I hate that sort of terminology (1)

Joebert (946227) | about 4 years ago | (#33635104)

Well hell, if it's "virtual waste" then it doesn't really exist. Problem virtually solved !

Re:I hate that sort of terminology (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33633002)

your epost ereply to the orginal eparent makes no esense!

Re:I hate that sort of terminology (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33633022)

Aussies recycle several million gigabytes of emails, images, configuration files, and other e-waste every year, with the number set to skyrocket over the next decade. ZDNet Australia takes an extended look into what happens to your bits when you're done with them. Take a peek inside the e-waste recycling process and find out what happens to your data when it gets unlinked.

Re:I hate that sort of terminology (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33633110)

It's not "e-waste" - it's regular old waste (aka garbage), just like old cars, dead light bulbs, and anything else that's discarded in the physical world.

I have mod points but I hope to remedy your ignorance instead.
If you ever got to your local landfill, you'll find they have a section just for electronic equipment, because it gets handled differently than "regular old waste (aka garbage)"

Unlike "regular old waste" e-waste has lots of heavy metals and various organic compounds like PCBs & PCDs (collectively mutagens/terogens/carcinogens). Instead of being disposed of properly, these electronic items get shipped to Asia or Africa where they contaminate the water &/or pollute the air.

Re:I hate that sort of terminology (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33633586)

You have mod-points and want to "remedy his ignorance", but you're not prepared to have your comment associated with your account. Nice. His point, which you neatly ignored, troll, is that the prefix "e", which seems to be attached to anything even remotely related to computers, is completely inappropriate when referring to this waste.

Should all the scrapped iMacs, iPods, iPhones, Macbook Pros etc. be referred to as iWaste? No. It's as retarded as saying "e-bullying" or "e-stalking". Differentiating between computer waste and regular waste is as easy as, well, that. See, I did it without resorting to the misuse of an already ridiculous neologism.

Re:I hate that sort of terminology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33636620)

Perhaps he had other mods in this article that he didn't want to invalidate. Like me.

Re:I hate that sort of terminology (0)

SupremoMan (912191) | about 4 years ago | (#33640494)

I call it iWaste when it's new and shiny.

Re:I hate that sort of terminology (1)

vlm (69642) | about 4 years ago | (#33633990)

I have mod points but I hope to remedy your ignorance instead.

Your friendly neighborhood chemist says "ditto"

Unlike "regular old waste" e-waste has ... PCBs ...

You should read the wikipedia article.

They haven't been used in electronic products in the USA since 79 and since early 80s in Europe. Usually the Europeans are ahead of the USA in environmental stuff, but not that time.

Chronologically, the only way your e-cycled e-waste e-old e-computer at the e-dump will contain PCBs is if its a museum piece. Not anything that can run Winders, linux, or any mac that was ever made.

The other problem, is PCBs are a great "high temp" coolant for giant power transformers and giant capacitors that overheat due to a nice high ESR. Generally, if it plugs into a standard wall outlet and is full of transistors, it probably cannot draw enough power to require the unique cooling abilities of PCBs, with the exception of very old fashioned fluorescent light ballasts (which run really hot and waste lots of power).

Maybe, just maybe, a 1970s era large mainframe power supply might have some questionable caps in the power supply. Probably not an issue for 99.9999% of e-recyclers.

Re:I hate that sort of terminology (1)

Xacid (560407) | about 4 years ago | (#33634542)

I actually assumed PCB here meant Printed Circuit Boards.

Re:I hate that sort of terminology (1)

vlm (69642) | about 4 years ago | (#33635500)

I actually assumed PCB here meant Printed Circuit Boards.

Polychlorinated biphenyls

A really fantastically good insulating oil, well, other than the cancer. I'm pretty sure that to this day no replacement has been invented that is as good and cheap as PCBs.

Printed Circuit Boards are mostly harmless in the post-lead solder era. A bit of plastic, glass, and copper, sounds like my bathroom or kitchen. Even during the lead solder era they were not so bad, most (non-slashdotter) homes probably had more lead solder on their copper pipes than their home electronics. A hundred bucks of hunting rifle ammo probably sprays 100 times as much lead into the environment than a hundred bucks of ipod.

Re:I hate that sort of terminology (1)

Xacid (560407) | about 4 years ago | (#33648584)

Kind of sucks how all of the materials we find that are damned good at what they do are incredibly harmful to us. Tale Asbestos, for example.

Thanks for the info. 3am reading is no good for anyone sometimes.

Re:I hate that sort of terminology (1)

BlackPignouf (1017012) | about 4 years ago | (#33634274)

True.

Moreover, "e-waste" are specific because even though e.g. mobiles & laptops all kinda look the same, they really are very different from one model to another and all require different processing.
The quick & dirty solution is, as you pointed out, to send them to Asia/Africa.

Also, the problem is that life cycles of those products are much shorter than usual.
A washing machine can last 30 years, but the last IPhone or DSLR generation is already considered to be junk by many.
If you think the problem is bad now, wait a few more years!

Re:I hate that sort of terminology (1)

Falconhell (1289630) | about 4 years ago | (#33642712)

It is illegal in .au to export ewaste to third world countries. I deal a lot with the local govenment computer recycling scheme, where I get a lot of system for my poor schools.
They are banned from exporting any ewaste.

Re:I hate that sort of terminology (2, Informative)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | about 4 years ago | (#33634328)

Unlike "regular old waste" e-waste has lots of heavy metals and various organic compounds like PCBs & PCDs (collectively mutagens/terogens/carcinogens). Instead of being disposed of properly, these electronic items get shipped to Asia or Africa where they contaminate the water &/or pollute the air.

Huh. In my day we just called it hazardous waste - we weren't smart enough to have these high tech names for it.

Change it to h-waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33634496)

it doubles indication as hardware and hazardous waste and people know it's physical.

Re:I hate that sort of terminology (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 years ago | (#33634882)

Huh. In my day we just called it hazardous waste - we weren't smart enough to have these high tech names for it.

There are different kinds of hazardous waste. e-Waste, or Electronics Waste (not "electronic" waste) is differently hazardous from organophosphates. It's not hazardous sitting around in clean conditions, but it will leach heavy metals (and other nasties) if buried in a landfill. Toxic chemicals, the kind of thing we typically think of as hazardous waste, is hazardous just sitting there. If you stick your hand into a stack of computers in a shipping container you get bruised. If you stick your hand into a vat of chemicals all kinds of miraculous things could happen. Or nothing, but we don't call that stuff hazardous.

Re:I hate that sort of terminology (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | about 4 years ago | (#33634586)

Does this mean we are going to get iWaste as-well?

Re:I hate that sort of terminology (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33634990)

Yes. Its the same as e-Waste but you won't be able to remove the batteries.

Re:I hate that sort of terminology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33642438)

It's not "e-waste" - it's regular old waste (aka garbage), just like old cars, dead light bulbs, and anything else that's discarded in the physical world.

I have mod points but I hope to remedy your ignorance instead.
If you ever got to your local landfill, you'll find they have a section just for electronic equipment, because it gets handled differently than "regular old waste (aka garbage)"

Unlike "regular old waste" e-waste has lots of heavy metals and various organic compounds like PCBs & PCDs (collectively mutagens/terogens/carcinogens). Instead of being disposed of properly, these electronic items get shipped to Asia or Africa where they contaminate the water &/or pollute the air.

You mean the US of A sends it all off to 3rd world countries, being as how it's the only developed country which refuses to ratify the Basel convention on transport of such toxic materials? Other countries like the one shown - Australia - must recycle on-shore.

Re:I hate that sort of terminology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33633272)

Sure it's e-waste. It's electronic waste. Waste in the form of electronics.

It's got more right to the e than e-mail does. Shouldn't that be n-mail (network mail) or i-mail (information mail) or d-mail (data mail) etc?

Re:I hate that sort of terminology (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | about 4 years ago | (#33634572)

I agree, I am sick of these e-morons attaching the letter e to anything electronic. Next we will have e-torches, e-doorbells, e-lights and e-bananas.

Re:I hate that sort of terminology (1)

kaatochacha (651922) | about 4 years ago | (#33638560)

I am very interested in your e-banana concept and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Re:I hate that sort of terminology (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 4 years ago | (#33635162)

That is exactly what I thought when I first read the title. "Doesn't it just go away when I empty the trash folder? Do computers in Australia have some sort of design flaw that causes deleted computer files to continue to clutter up the hard drive?" Then I realized that they were talking about tech equipment like computers, cell phones, copy machines, etc.
It would be nice if headline writers would use terms with consistency.

Article Format (4, Informative)

Fluffeh (1273756) | about 4 years ago | (#33632976)

Has that website always been so terrible with the way it formats an article? That looks like the sort of format that a retarded project manager signs off because it "looks flash!" even though it is as useful as an encyclopedia for toe-jam.

Re:Article Format (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33633036)

Nope. That's New and Improved(TM)!

Re:Article Format (4, Funny)

sjwt (161428) | about 4 years ago | (#33633130)

I belive the website is made from 100% recycled ewaste.

Re:Article Format (2, Funny)

Jstlook (1193309) | about 4 years ago | (#33633356)

Heck no, they upgraded from the 100% recycled e-waste. They're now using the New and Improved, 115% recycled e-waste, with added politician hot-air action!
(apologies to Monica)

In "real life" it goes to the Third World (5, Insightful)

acidradio (659704) | about 4 years ago | (#33632992)

I'm sure there are some legitimate e-waste recyclers in the developed world but they are far and few between. Most of this stuff is pawned off on places like Nigeria, India and China where those people are forced to contend with toxic metals, burning plastic, strong acids and harmful processes performed in unregulated back-alley operations.

If we don't recycle it responsibly it just gets disposed of in some toxic manner in another country. I think it's about time we attach a disposal fee or tax on all these things at the time of purchase. The product cycle on most electronics is rather short. It WILL be disposed of sometime and that interval gets to be less and less. "Out of sight, out of mind" doesn't get rid of the pollution, it just sends it to some other country. That other country is still on this earth though.

Re:In "real life" it goes to the Third World (1)

JDmetro (1745882) | about 4 years ago | (#33633106)

We already have that in Canada. Buy a TV and that $25 (other items cost +/-). Now if you keep that crappy thermal paper receipt (receipt probably won't last for the warranty period) for the life of that TV when you take it to the dump doesn't cost anything. Lose the receipt and you have to pay another $25 to drop it off at the dump. Funny thing is if you bought that TV you already had to pay the compulsory $25 fee so why should you need to show a receipt? Money grab in the name of greenness anyone?
Yah we put all our old electronics in our own personal museum (garden shed behind the barn at my parents farm) who knows someday I may need that 386DX processor to repair the space shuttle so I can avoid the zombie hordes and head to Mars. I hear to women there have three um ...things of interest.

Re:In "real life" it goes to the Third World (1)

skegg (666571) | about 4 years ago | (#33633332)

Get your ass to Mars ...

Re:In "real life" it goes to the Third World (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33633472)

$25 for a TV is outrageous!

We have the same thing in the Netherlands (though no show-the-receipt requirement). I believe I paid about 6 euro on my TV. Currently they're considering to suspend this "tax" as the recycling fund has reached a level so high we can recycle for "free" for many years to come.

Re:In "real life" it goes to the Third World (3, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | about 4 years ago | (#33633120)

What's to stop people just dumping it on the street at night? Who's going to drive it all the way to a special place and pay for the privilege?

Here we have a truck which comes round on Thursday mornings to collect your old stuff.

Re:In "real life" it goes to the Third World (1)

21mhz (443080) | about 4 years ago | (#33633282)

What's to stop people just dumping it on the street at night? Who's going to drive it all the way to a special place and pay for the privilege?

Include a redeemable deposit in the price, to be collected at waste reception points. This works with bottles and cans in EU.

Re:In "real life" it goes to the Third World (1)

Falconhell (1289630) | about 4 years ago | (#33642780)

In South Australia we have caontainer deposit rules for all cans, drink cartons and bottles. When one visits other states, the level of this sort of rubbish in the environment is huge compared to our very tidy state. It seems a good thing to me.

Re:In "real life" it goes to the Third World (2, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 4 years ago | (#33633360)

What's to stop people just dumping it on the street at night?

Snipers. Lots and lots of snipers.

But the real question is: Why whould people dump e-waste in the street instead on in their regular garbage bag?

And the answer to that is also Snipers. Or MAGMA! Yes, definitively the answer is MAGMA!

Re:In "real life" it goes to the Third World (4, Informative)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 4 years ago | (#33633188)

I love how you frame this - they are victims, helpless in their fate, and we are the evil people doing them harm. "Pawned off on"...LOL. Scrap is a big business in nations like China, and waste is bought by the ton and shipped in. After the bill of lading is received by the buyer, there is absolutely nothing any Westerner can do to affect what happens next. I realize it makes good press to read the service tag off a junked Dell and say it came from Mamie Jenkins of Flyover Territory, USA, and it's therefore her fault that workers are being exposed to PCBs. Misleading and serving a personal agenda instead of reporting the facts, but that's where the press is these days. How about a little opprobrium for the unethical people who make the decision to recycle electronics in an unsafe manner? Oh no, we can't have that. "Victim" by definition means "no responsibility" so if it was their fault in any way, they would no longer be Holy Victims. Another very disturbing aspect of this framing is that because people aren't Westerners, then they by definition can make no decisions. They're too stupid, only we are the smart people who can take responsibility! Racist to the extreme, but then try creating cognitive dissonance in your typical PC drone...you won't get far.

It's also extremely Western-centric. Only we make e-waste! Ever pause to think about the fact that developing nations are creating huge amounts of waste themselves? China is the second-largest consumer of PCs in the world. Adam Minter of Shanghai Scrap [shanghaiscrap.com] makes a good point:

When China and other countries make a concerted, well-funded effort to do something about the problem, that, too, demands coverage. Put differently, after nearly a decade of wall-to-wall coverage of everything wrong with China's e-waste problem, how can the foreign media and activist community ignore what it is finally doing right - and doing right on a massive scale?

Put differently, after nearly a decade of wall-to-wall coverage of everything wrong with China's e-waste problem, how can the foreign media and activist community ignore what it is finally doing right - and doing right on a massive scale? As longtime readers know, I'm no China apologist. This e-scrap program has problems. But it is a massive e-recycling program, nonetheless, and yet it has never - not once in its two month life - been reported by a mainstream (not industry trade) foreign news outlet despite the fact - over the last decade - mainstream foreign media outlets have done thousands of stories about the problem of e-waste. More damning, neither the Basel Action Network, which devotes itself to confronting the "unsustainable dumping of the world's toxic waste and pollution on our global village's poorest residents," nor Greenpeace, which actively solicits donations beide photos of south China's e-scrap recycling zones, has many any effort to mention China's progress on their respective websites (or, for that matter, recent progress on the same issue in Brazil). Why?

What's the breakthrough new recycling program in China he's talking about? You won't hear about it in the Western media because it is an inconvenient truth. It doesn't Fit The Narrative. And The Narrative is always that we are bad and they are victims.

Re:In "real life" it goes to the Third World (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33633694)

neocon nerd idiot, exhibit A

"won't anybody think of the poor first worlders who are being subjected to RACISM????????????????"

Re:In "real life" it goes to the Third World (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 years ago | (#33633840)

I love how you frame this - they are victims, helpless in their fate, and we are the evil people doing them harm.

If it's illegal to set the shit on fire in this country then it should be illegal to send it to another country where you know they're just going to set it on fire. You know, like they do to remove PVC coating from wire, which releases dioxins... a portion of which rides the Jet Stream back to the USA.

What's the breakthrough new recycling program in China he's talking about? You won't hear about it in the Western media because it is an inconvenient truth.

If it's like everything else to come out of China lately you won't hear about it because it's bullshit. Scientific papers? Bullshit. Products? Toxic bullshit. Remember that dam they built? Environmental disaster, already having problems, billed as China's environmental future by putting up one less coal plant.
The simple truth is that we have almost as much pollution from China in Los Angeles as we do produced locally, and LA and environs has 25M people or more if you count stacked illegals. China is putting up coal plants as fast as they can. China is not reducing pollution, they are increasing it.

Re:In "real life" it goes to the Third World (1)

Xacid (560407) | about 4 years ago | (#33634524)

Wait, did you just say it's China's fault that LA has shitty air quality?

Re:In "real life" it goes to the Third World (2, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 years ago | (#33634782)

Wait, did you just say it's China's fault that LA has shitty air quality?

There are days when there's more Chinese pollution in LA than there is Los Angeleno pollution. Look it up, me laddo. People like to cry about the CARB's supposedly draconian control over emissions in California but you cannot argue with results. But as long as we export pollution (as a nation) then we will still be creating it somewhere.

Re:In "real life" it goes to the Third World (1)

notknown86 (1190215) | about 4 years ago | (#33634166)

Either you really like reading about e-waste, or you had to really Google to find a source to back your pre-conceived notions. Shanghai Scrap - really???

Read like a classic set of O'Reilly "Talking points":

- We aren't to blame
- Foreigners are stupid
- Personal responsibility!
- You're a racist for disagreeing with me
- [Insert random quote from "expert"]
- The damn media... after us again

Re:In "real life" it goes to the Third World (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 4 years ago | (#33638758)

No, actually, I've read Shanghai Scrap for a while now. There is a lot of good, firsthand insight. Funny you assumed I pulled it out of my ass. That's what typically happens when people are confronted with cognitive dissonance. The guy has written for the New York Times and is friendly with environmentalists and other activists...is that liberal enough for you? No, anything that disagrees with my preconceived notions fed to me by the media MUST be a fraud of some kind, there is no other conclusion that allows me to keep my fragile mental state intact.

Re:In "real life" it goes to the Third World (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33634776)

Well, yes, most Chinese will be victims, a few make big money. And the narrative is that we're not demanding any minimal ethics in the BUSINESS CONTRACT we are offering them when we ask them to dispose our waste, as we should. Yes, we have control over that even when it entered their country - they cannot simply break contracts either. It's not just "what they do" but actually "what we asked them to do" - that one of their businessmen accepts the proposal does not absolve us or our governments of any guilt.

Re:In "real life" it goes to the Third World (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 4 years ago | (#33638840)

You are seriously delusional, and have no idea how international business works. You're just casting about for some scenario where your opinions make sense. Once the bill of lading is released, the shipper has nothing to say about what happens to the shipment. It could be used to microwave fluffy duckies and bunnies and nobody could do anything about it. What "we" "asked them to do" was purchase an amount of scrap at a certain price, deliverable at a certain place. There is an entire industry built around scrap, surprising as that might be.

Re:In "real life" it goes to the Third World (4, Interesting)

rhook (943951) | about 4 years ago | (#33633228)

We already have "disposal" fees on electronics here in California, the money gets put into the general fund and never gets used for "e-waste disposal", just another one of our states scams.

Re:In "real life" it goes to the Third World (1)

breagerey (758928) | about 4 years ago | (#33633488)

My understanding is that the fees are placed in an Electronic Waste Recovery and Recycling Account which is then used for things like free electronic recycling drop offs.
Are you upset with the implementation of this or just upset at the idea of taxes?

Re:In "real life" it goes to the Third World (2, Informative)

rhook (943951) | about 4 years ago | (#33642210)

The program is a scam and does not pay for recycling of waste, the whole point of it was to setup more government agencies so that state union workers could have more jobs. This is why the money for the program goes the the general fund, to pay state workers. Just one more example of why this state is in the hole thanks to our incompetent legislature. Notice how this program is also considered to be a "high risk" for fraud, I wouldn't expect any less from this state.

http://www.pacificresearch.org/publications/californias-e-waste-waste [pacificresearch.org]

"Using data from the last six-years, Dr. Ballon found that under EWRA:

        * Recycling a single electronic item requires 12 distinct transactions across three separate agencies.
        * Expenses have grown nearly three times faster than revenue from 2004-2008.
        * Yearly payments now exceed $150 million.
        * The California Department of Finance has identified the program as a “high risk for fraudulent activities.”

“Under the current system, recycling a piece of electronic waste depends on a complex maze of interactions with little accountability and loads of costs,” Dr. Ballon said. According to the study, EWRA contains no provisions to restrain rising fees and places this burden on consumers and taxpayers."

Re:In "real life" it goes to the Third World (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33633838)

In Australia Canberra ACT has a tax of $25 per computer monitor and 98% is just a fee to a private operator who rips some metal off, and somehow disposes of the rest - most likely landfill.
In a perfect economy, the waste would go to a smelter, but loading it up on a truck and driving it 200 miles is too costly (mostly lawyers who prey on back injuries, cuts, sprains).

There is nothing wrong with sending it to a third world - they work harder for less.
I know Lexmark and Dell and IBM have smash it up policy, as they don't want spare parts coming back via China, especially printer cartridge shells. This may be the true reason for the anti China brigade. And if waste was more plentiful, then it would not be worth extreme backyard burning.

Note how the purchase levy is not there - because someone is pocketing the money. For drugs and DDT , it is free.

Also the dumping tax means TV repairmen don't want any electronics else they are stuck with taxes. This ensures more waste , less repairs and soaring import bills.

Re:In "real life" it goes to the Third World (1)

sco08y (615665) | about 4 years ago | (#33633968)

Which, in Australia, is known as "New Zealand."

Re:In "real life" it goes to the Third World (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33634512)

I think it's about time we attach a disposal fee or tax on all these things at the time of purchase

So they dump it anyway and now I pay a fee. And not only that the shifty guy in middle of nowhere country gets paid for it and still does what he was doing before with his army of 0 pay workers. BRILLIANT!

I have played this game before. Apparently you haven't.

Garbage is garbage. Paying money to get rid of it does not remove the problem. It just lessens what people are willing to throw away (or will find new ways to get rid of that may or may not be as good). In this case they are going to toss it no matter what as they have a new one that blows away the old one. Also no one else wants it because they can get a newer one that destroys the old one in performance and cost.

So with your solution not only do I get to pay to throw out something that is worthless. I am giving them enough money to make it *MORE* profitable to ship overseas. You want to make it less profitable to 'out of site out of mind'...

Throwing taxes on everything does not 'fix' things. It just gives money to groups who are going to spend it on other things. Also if you are thinking 'oh give it to the government they will take care of it' go look into your states local general funds and look how the US 'balances' its budget sometime. Those funds are 'raided' all the time to makeup shortfalls in other areas.

Nice idea but I dont think it will work.

Honest? (4, Informative)

cappp (1822388) | about 4 years ago | (#33633000)

I wonder how honest that article is considering the manner in which the rest of us [nytimes.com] get rid of our electronic waste

International agreements and European regulations have made a dent in the export of old electronics to China, but loopholes - and sometimes bribes - allow many to skirt the requirements. And only a sliver of the electronics sold gets returned to manufacturers such as Dell and Hewlett Packard for safe recycling. Upward of 90 percent ends up in dumps that observe no environmental standards, where shredders, open fires, acid baths and broilers are used to recover gold, silver, copper and other valuable metals while spewing toxic fumes and runoff into the skies and rivers.

Accurate figures about the shady and unregulated trade are hard to come by. However, experts agree that it is overwhelmingly a problem of the developing world. They estimate that 70 percent of the 20 million to 50 million tons of electronic waste produced globally each year is dumped in China, with most of the rest going to India and African nations.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, it is 10 times cheaper to export e-waste than to dispose of it at home.

There's a pretty awesome photo-essay following the process over on Time [time.com] .

Re:Honest? (1)

wall0159 (881759) | about 4 years ago | (#33633326)

This is why I try, whenever possible, to buy second-hand computers and phones. Don't be sucked-in: just because you are a nerd doesn't mean you need a quad-core behemoth with 16 GB RAM. A laptop with a P4-M or Centrino CPU is very usable with Ubuntu -- I know, I use one as a multi-track recording studio and general laptop.

Re:Honest? (1)

Joebert (946227) | about 4 years ago | (#33635182)

I'm actually on an AMD Athlon 3000+ system with 2G of RAM and Ubuntu as I post this. I have a second drive in this system with Windows Vista on it and that runs Eve Online, Heroes 5, and a handfull of other games just fine.

I've got a couple of systems even older than this which run Ubuntu server and automate daily website maintenance tasks for me.

Re:Honest? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33643328)

a quad-core behemoth with 16 GB RAM.

that would be ok for a digital photo frame or something, but a real nerd needs more power on the desktop

Re:Honest? (2, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | about 4 years ago | (#33634724)

It's not just e-waste. The same thing happens with decommissioned ships [time.com] and other dangerous waste. In the U.S., the show "60 Minutes" has done a number of pieces on this, most notably Following The Trail Of Toxic E-Waste [cbsnews.com] and The Ship-Breakers of Bangladesh [cbsnews.com] . Basically, when it comes to dangerous materials (with the exception of nuclear waste) poor countries inevitably become the dumping grounds for the first world. I would bet that, if you were to really track that e-waste in Australia, I mean REALLY track it (not just taking someone's word for it), you would find it eventually in a cargo container with the shippers being surprisingly reticent on the details of its actual destination.

Re:Honest? (1)

PipsqueakOnAP133 (761720) | about 4 years ago | (#33640994)

Well, if you watch the video on that article, for the recycler they deal with (which they do note that they trust very few), you see actual blue collar white people with safety gear and all doing the disassembly.

So, for their particular program, it isn't some poor 3rd world child dying of lead poisoning.

It's taking up space... (4, Funny)

YoshiDan (1834392) | about 4 years ago | (#33633032)

... in my spare bedroom and my shed. I just can't bear to throw all my old computer junk away...

Re:It's taking up space... (5, Funny)

dbIII (701233) | about 4 years ago | (#33633112)

My witty reply was stifled when I looked behind me and saw a pile of 7 nine track tape reels - and that's just at work!

Re:It's taking up space... (1)

Xacid (560407) | about 4 years ago | (#33634444)

What the heck is a track tape reel?!

Can I get my frisbee off your porch, Mister?

I got the wrong impression ... (1)

Alain Williams (2972) | about 4 years ago | (#33633068)

I thought that they were going to say what is done with all those bytes that are downloaded and not used. Also what happens to music that you no longer like but you do not safely dispose of by putting to /dev/null?

Isn't it obvious? (1)

Genda (560240) | about 4 years ago | (#33633210)

E-Toilet paper and E-Toilets... you insensitive clod, now mind your own business!!!

No silicon Heaven (1)

Merls the Sneaky (1031058) | about 4 years ago | (#33633296)

No silicon heaven, where do all the calculators go?

Re:No silicon Heaven (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 4 years ago | (#33635290)

No silicon heaven, where do all the calculators go?

To court with TI, probably.

Community Waste Recycling (1)

spachib (1538693) | about 4 years ago | (#33633614)

I've been spending a lot of time volunteering at an organization here in Portland called FreeGeek that takes most computer related items and either recycles them(volunteers actually disassemble and separate all parts of the comp.) or reuses them(by adding or subtracting parts, making it functional and donating it to other groups or the in Portland through the Hardware Grant program). It's an awesome place to meet other hardware enthusiasts and do some good.

There's FreeGeek locations in a handful of other cities around the US. Though the one in PDX is the "mothership". http://www.freegeek.org/ [freegeek.org]

lando shot first (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33633734)

lando shot first in the clouds!

Lando Calrissian was a professional gambler, entrepreneur, smuggler, and general throughout various points in his life. Born on Socorro, he became a gambler and con man early in his life and acquired his own ship, the Millennium Falcon, in a game of sabacc with a man named Cix Trouvee. He went on to have numerous adventures with the Falcon and its piloting droid, Vuffi Raa, during which he ran afoul of a Sorcerer of Tund named Rokur Gepta, whom Calrissian eventually slew. After a series of events led to him losing the Millennium Falcon to a Corellian named Han Solo on Bespin, Calrissian eventually became the Baron Administrator of Cloud City for a time--a position he once again gained through sabacc.

Not a bad living.... (2, Interesting)

gadders (73754) | about 4 years ago | (#33634710)

My neighbour runs a company that does WEEE (the European Electrical Recycling directive) recycling for a large area of the UK.

When the commodities boom was happening just before the Beijing Olympics, they were recycling electrical goods for free as they were making so much money on the reclaimed copper, gold etc.

Now that the metals prices have dropped, they charge the people that they are recycling for (councils, large corporates etc) so they still make money.

Check for New 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>