The digital dump

Foreign Policy has a striking photoessay on how the third world has become the preferred dumping ground for the millions of tons of electronic waste the developed world pumps out every year. Because the scrap contains a lot of valuable metals like gold and copper – as well as toxic ones like lead and mercury – scavenging digital dumps has become a major industry for the poor.

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3 Responses to The digital dump

  1. This is a tough topic. I always worry what happens to old electronics – even though I use tech recycling companies and fund raising drives. Another reason to get behind virtual systems and reduce the amount of physical systems.

  2. TimothyHutton

    You might want to watch Manufactured Landscapes, a film about Toronto photographer Ed Burtynsky’s trip to China to capture images of Chinese industry. There is a section on the recycling of e-waste that is quite disturbing. Burtynsky is concerned wth the way we alter the natural environment. His work, and the film, are pretty powerful stuff.

  3. While it is a good thing that the waste is being recycled, it’s worrying that it has to be shipped into the third world for it to happen. It really should be the responsibility of the manufacturers to make sure that the equipment can be and really is recycled. Perhaps we need some kind of recycling fee as part of the price?