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Electronic waste ruins the lives of people in developing countries

Electronic waste ruins the lives of people in developing countries Eunice Lam
Whitworth University

Abstract
Technology advancement brings the problem of electronic waste. The number of obsolete electronic items rises every year. However, the reuse and recycling rate in the United States is low. Consequently, the wastes are shipped to developing world and it seriously ruins the lives of citizens in developing countries. It also harms the United States in social aspect. Action must be taken promptly. To tackle the problem, the government should adopt both regulatory and reward policies. Also, education to students and community is needed to raise awareness to the e-waste problem. Finally, everyone in the States needs to make commitment on reduce, reuse and recycle. They need to make wise decision when buying or damping electronic products.

Electronic waste ruins the lives of people in developing countries

While all of us are discussing the latest model of electronic products excitedly and disposing our obsolete electronic devices without a thought, the recycling workers in another side of the world are struggling between penury and poison.

From the statistics of EPA, the United States produced 3.16 million tons of electronic waste in 2008 and the amount of e-waste is rising every year. Since the U.S. has banned disposal of e-waste to landfills and it is expensive to recycle the trash in local factories, the e-waste is often shipped to developing countries. Disassembly of useful materials from electronic wastes is a lucrative business in developing countries. Thus, poor people in developing countries choose to work in recycling facilities even though they are well aware of the potential danger to their own bodies and to the environment. The living environment in developing countries deteriorates every day due to our selfish behavior. The problem of e-waste is so alarming that action must be taken promptly. Cooperation, legislation and education are the key to tackle this problem. Meanwhile, all to stakeholders should come together to work on all the preventative and remedial policy.

There are several causes of the current situation. First, there is no appropriate law to control the electronic waste.E-waste disposal is harmful to environment, but it is not feasible to reuse and costly to recycle safely. At the same time, there is no federal mandate e-waste recycling. The United States isn’t taking their obligation even it has signed the Basel Convention with Haiti and Afghanistan. Manufacturers are allowed not implementing any environmental friendly design or take-back program on E-waste (although a few states have taken their initiative to set up their own law) (Carroll, 2008). As a result, people choose to use the most economical way to handle the problem – ship the waste to developing countries.

Additionally, with the advancement of technology, new products are pushed to the markets every day. People try to pursue for the latest model of electronic to enjoy the material comfort brought by the innovative products. They dispose the obsolete electronic products more and more frequently. Therefore, the number of electronic products rises every year and the amount of e-wastes shipped to developing countries increases accordingly.

Apart from that, the problem can also attribute to the ignorance of citizens. When people want to dispose their electronic wastes, they simply sent their e-waste to any recycling center without knowing how the companies recycle the wastes. They misunderstand that dropping the waste to recyclers means they can be recycled safely. However, the recyclers often sell the electronic appliance to brokers who ship them to foreign countries (Carroll, 2008). In other words, people who damp their electronic gears to irresponsible recyclers are one of the culprits of the e-waste epidemic too.

Indeed, the...
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