Feeds

China junks toxic US PC junk

Poisonous debate

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

China is to enforce a ban on the importation of 'smuggled' scrap computers from the West, in the face of a growing toxic waste scandal.

A string of reports in the Chinese press has uncovered dangerous break-up methods in the so-called e-waste industry,exposing workers, including children, to hazardous waste. In Guangdong Province, local water supplies have been poisoned through the computer 'recycling' and some agricultural land is now too contaminated with toxic waste to farm, according to The Guardian's John Gittings. Up to 100,000 people in China are employed in the e-waste trade, he reports.

China's new moves to ban toxic computer waste follow a report published in March this year from a coalition of environmental campaigners, which estimated that anything between 50 per cent and 80 per cent of US computer waste is exported to Asia, including India and Pakistan as well as China.

The US is the most prominent opponent of the so-called Basel BAN amendment which bans the export of toxic waste by the 29 richest members of the OECD. Canada, Australia and Brazil are allies of the US in opposition.

The US has relatively weak laws governing the treatment of electronic waste, and regulators have not taken decisive action to date to ensure safe treatment. Of course the export of hazardous waste makes it that much easier to avoid imposing expensive end-of-life rules on the country's vociferous computer industry.

This is soon to change. Under new proposals published last week by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), computer and TV cathode-ray tube monitors are to be reclassified as 'universal waste', meaning that they should no longer be dumped in landfill sites. This will bring the US into line with the EU, where computer monitors are already classified as poisonous waste.

Cathode-ray tubes contain large amounts of lead - up to 3.5 kilos in some monitors - as well as birth defect-causing mercury.

Of course, tougher restrictions at home in the US, coupled with no restrictions on exporting toxic junk abroad, will increase the incentives for computer 'recyclers' to ship America's e-waste abroad.

You can find out more on this subject from the members of the anti-toxic waste coalition, The Basel Action Network and the The Silicon Valley Toxic Coalition. ®

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.