A migrant child from Henan province holds up a piece of e-waste. It was once a Nokia computer screen, now dumped in China and dismantled by poor, unprotected, migrant workers.
A Chinese child sits amongst a pile of wires and e-waste. Children can often be found dismantling e-waste containing many hazardous chemicals known to be potentially very damaging to children's health.
Because our mobile phones, computers and other
electronic products aremade using toxic ingredients
, workers at production sites are at riskof exposure and the
products cannot be recycled safely when they arediscarded.
Many are routinely, and often illegally, shipped as waste
fromEurope, US and Japan to Asia because it is cheaper and easier
to dumpthe problem on poor countries
that have low environmental standards than totackle it at
Conditionswhere electronic waste (e-waste) is scrapped in
southern China aretruly shocking. One of our scientists, Kevin
Brigden, who has visitedhis fair share of the world's toxic
hotspots, described the scene: "Theconditions in these yards are
horrific. In Guiyu, southeast China, I
found acid baths leaching into streams
. They were so acidic they coulddissolve a coin in just hours.
Many of the chemicals used inelectronics are dangerous and can
damage people even at very low levelsof exposure."
We are conducting ongoing investigations intoscrap yards in
India and China, where we have found people taking thee-waste apart by hand
and being exposed to a nasty cocktail ofdangerous chemicals.
Take a trip through the electronics lifecycle to discover why it's a problem and what can be done about it:
Taking toxic chemicals out of products makes reuse and recycling
ofelectronic products safer, easier and cheaper. This is the first
stepin tackling the problem of e-waste.
We have asked all the top mobilephone and computer companies
worldwide to clean up their act. Samsung,Sony, Sony Ericsson and Nokia have already taken a first step
bycommitting to eliminate toxic flame retardants and PVC plastic
fromsome of their products.
But Hewlett Packard has made no such committment
, nor haveApple, Dell, Fujitsu-Siemens, IBM, LG, Motorola,
Panasonic, or Toshiba. At a major technology expo in Beijing
webuilt a statue using the companies' e-waste collected from scrap
yardsin China to demonstrate the problem these companies are
Oncetoxic chemicals have been eliminated from products,
manufacturers shouldtake full life cycle responsibility
for their products and, once theyreach the end of their useful
life, take their goods back for re-use,safe recycling or disposal.
This is what we are campaigning for: to turnback the toxic tide of
Become a cyberactivist
Our cyberactivists helped pressure Sony Ericsson to come clean. We need your help to ensure future victories and tackle the problem of e-waste.
Donate to help us turn back the toxic tide of e-waste.