Where do my old i-Phones and computers end up?

Thanks to the modern technology, our lives become much more comfortable and convenient with electronics, such as a smart-phone, personal computer, and television. Someday, I was curious about my old i-Pod and lap-top commuters like where they go after end of  life? It is unconvinced belief that even old devices may be used in developing country by the second or third new owner, who buys my one as a used products. Or I thought my old electronic may be dissembled by the professional hands for recycle. I never doubted that it may hurt future generation and me. However, I could know this is wrong idea after watching the video that talks about e-waste problem. Many e-wastes are sneakily exporting to developed countries to developing countries. By unskillful hands and unequipped youth labors, my old i-pod and computer has been dissembled and buried that we all have big responsibility of making the world as a hazard living environment. This problem is very serious problem as threatening all living organisms in the present and future. We should be aware of this problem immediately.

E-waste – Any unwanted equipment that is dependent upon electric current of electromagnetic fields in  order to operate properly and no longer serves its original purpose. E-waste is also often called as WEEE (Waste and Electronic Equipment) that generates extremely hazard by-products, such as dioxins, furans, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polyhalogenated aromatic hydrocarbons (PHAHs), and hydrogen cholride. Regardless of its dangerous toxic, e-waste are improperly eliminated as a huge amount. Landfill, incineration, reuse, recycle, and export are all lists how to treat e-waste. More than 70% of America’s e-waste are exporting to the third worlds. China, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, and Ghana are major importers of e-waste. European Union and American  are major exporters because the proper treatment of e-waste cost too much, but nobody wants to pay for the right price to take care of e-waste. So, unwelcomed e-waste are being shipped to developing countries.

E-Waste trading route – by Green Peace

Basel Convention was held in 1989 to aim at preventing the economically motivated dumping of hazardous wastes in developing countries. Additionally, Basel Ban Amendment in 1995 prohibits all exports of hazard waste between member states. These international agreement is working as a guideline without direct regulations. According to Green Peace, “the United States has signed the Basel Convention, but has yet to ratify the Convention. In order for the United States to become a Basel party, it must rafity the Convetion and have sufficient authority to implement Basel’s terms. For this reason, the United States cannot participate in waste transfers with Basel Parties without a separate and equivalent bilateral or multilateral agreement.” In other words, Green Peace International tells that “50-80 percent of the waste in the U.S. collected for recycling is being  exported to developing countries or sold to ‘grey’ market.” The government of the United States did not ratified the Basel Convention yet, so America’s practice is legal.


E-waste is growing up super-fast that would be exceeding over 93.5 million tons annually. How do we take care of these? We do not have much capability to deal with plenty of growing e-waste and contained hazard toxins; therefore, immoral exports are being proceeding in the behind of us. Almost 70% of global e-waste ends up in China. Burning and heating are major methods to extract valuable material from e-waste that cause of serious health problems and massive ecological destruction. However, it keeps continually arriving in China because it is very profitable as China has low wages and high demand for used products. This industry also feed their family.


Regulations are already ready to stop the problem of e-waste, but the lack of operational system and will is another problem. Environmental protection agency, RCRA (Resource Conservation Recovery Act), and EPA policy for hazardous  waste are not function in the United States. It is same happening in China as well. There are three major reasons; the first, e-wastes are difficult to categorize into just three classifications (industrial, municipal and hazardous waste). The second, it is hard to define who is causing the problem. The third, it is hard to ensure funding of treatment.

Do you still we have a plenty land to bury waste?

This is not going to be a right solution. Lead and mercury would intake into ground water and land that would transfer to plants and animals we consume. How does it sound? You cannot still feel? Let’s check out the film of the largest e-waste site in the world, Guiyu in Guangdong Province in China.


This is caused by our unmindful consumerism and ethnocentric viewpoint. Serious disaster is happening  now as a sin of us. We all are interdependent beings as a part of nature. Many people may think that we are separated from other beings like other nations and nature; however, the air we take, the water we drink, and the food we eat come from the nature and various regions. In the fast growing society, mindful consumption is not easy as people do not buy new things, but we can at least try to use old one more and dump properly. For us and next generation the sustainable environment must be attained by your immediate action and awareness.

This entry was posted in Culture.