July 10, 2008

Where is my old cell phone?

What happens to all the electronic waste that we generate when we decide we are going for a upgraded desktop or laptop? I am not too certain as when I look around, all the equipment I see which people have brought are either passed down to someone or the other, be it the kiddies in the household, or maybe the house help. But how many of us throw away some electronic item which is not usable, by throw away I mean dump it in the garbage bin and let the garbage van come and pick it up. I for one can’t think of anything which I have thrown away. I have a cassette player which I bought way back in 1997 and it is not in use but then it still remains where it has always been.

How often would you be required to change electronics, and if the ones that you are chucking out are in good condition, then you would not throw it away right? But, what if they are in a non working condition? I guess then it would contribute to scrap. And what happens to this scrap which is mostly plastic or metal. I believe the metal can be melted and used again, if they wish to do that, but what about all that plastic? I am surprised to read here how the junk lands up in China, predominantly electronic waste including plastic components and how they deal with all this waste. They melt the most components and those which are not easily melted are just dumped to the ever increasing toxic wastes in most of the water bodies in and around China.

Aren’t there any laws which say that you can not dump your trash in a poor country? Oh yes, there is! But, the United States didn’t sign that treaty by the UN and now for the measly money that is offered to the poor in China they sacrifice their health.

I for one have decided that before I decide to discard any electronic item, I shall try the passing it down to some needy person rather than have my electronic waste result in some child’s persistent cough.

"A lot of people may think electronic manufacturing is a clean industry, but it's not," says Zhao. "It's a dirty process." Just because we don't see the dirt, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. –Time Online


  1. It's true. I saw a tv report on this a while ago and I was shocked. I saw the piles of scrap, people melting it and breathing those awful toxic fumes. I was completely outraged.
    Whenever I have something that doesn't work anymore (unfortunately it happens more often these days because things aren't build to last) I always worry whether or not it will be recycled.

  2. Electronic items today become out-of-date much sooner than before -- you buy an ipod today & next year you realise its memory is too small; you buy a camera today & next month there's a camera with better resolution on the market. One cant find buyers for the 1 megapixel camera or VCD players anymore even if they're in good wkg conditions.I can imagine how much electronic waste we would be generating globally. Its worrisome.

    But having said that, I wouldn't know where to dispose off electronic waste. Have only seen paper or beer-can re-cycling plants in Singapore.

  3. I have never ever seen anything close to a electronics recycling unit. Though I do know that people come in to collect the old things to be thrown away, wonder what they do with it though.

  4. Good post Aathira. Infact a group of college students in Pune are starting a campaign by which an old PC can be donated to a charitable organisation instead of being simply dumped. Such initiatives are clearly laudable in the light of the infor you have given in your post..

  5. i guess first up we need to stop off stuff on the road for once... like u said pass down things that are still in working order... and use things to the fullest and not discard them off because we'r fed up of it..or have moved onto something else...

  6. Informative post! I can imagine the toxic fumes that emanates from melting metal & plastics.

    I guess, the only solution is what Ritu has mentioned. Ideally, if the goods are still usable, identify an org. and donate them. Our poor country has lotsa people who will benifit from the hand-me-down electronic items which otherwise would have gone waste.


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