Friday, 25th september 2020 | Circular economy
Marco Arezio - Consulente materie plastiche - E-waste: the recycling of survival

When dangerous work is done by the poor.

Computers, refrigerators, televisions, mobile phones, batteries, cables, microwave ovens, air conditioners and screens , these are the electronic waste from which precious metals are obtained to be resold. But to undo these objects economically and without environmental constraints, a clandestine economy has been created made up of people on the threshold of survival who for little money go from desperation to a dangerous everyday life.

There are many sites scattered around the world, from those closest to Europe, such as Palestine to the most distant, such as the outskirts of large African or South East Asian cities.

The common thread of these traffics have common motives, they create small-but numerous illegal dumps – which escape the bland control of the local authorities (in some cases the controls do not really exist), in which these objects coming from the modern consumerism are poured coming dismantled to recover what is valuable inside.

The working methods are archaic and create a very high rate of pollution due to the dispersion in the ground of the acid of the batteries , of the sewage deriving from the incineration of the plastic cables that surround the copper strands , from the air pollution due to of these fumes which, day after day, obscure the skies in which the families of workers live.

But what is inside a mobile phone?

– ABS 30%

– 15% copper

– 8% epoxy resins

– 3% iron

– Silicone 10%

– Pottery 16%

– Other 18%

The poor populations living in this underground economy suffer from the increase in tumors , the high rate of lead in the blood, the poisoning of crops due to lands now compromised by chemical agents spilled daily.

The controls by the authorities in many cases are non-existent because the poverty of some areas of our planet seems to justify a corrupt and softening economy, where immediate survival is set up with respect to the medium-term effects of pollution on people and on the environment in which they live.

The theory of being able to “eat today” would seem to be a placebo for all ills, without considering that the techniques and systems for a correct recycling of e-waste obviously exist but the market prefers to make a lower recycling price on the shoulders of the poor people, without further prospects and above all silent.

See more info about eWaste

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