Global efforts to ban the trade of electronics waste to developing nations in the hopes of ending so-called “backyard recycling” will only exacerbate a growing environmental problem, according to a new study.
Developed nations often export e-waste, such as old computers, to China, India, Thailand, and less developed nations where crude recycling processes can emit pollutants that contaminate the air, water, and soil.
For instance, copper wire is often pulled from the old computers and the insulation burned off, emitting dioxins and other chemicals.
The U.S. Congress is now considering an e-waste trade ban. But similar efforts have backfired, according to Eric Williams of Arizona State University.
Not only have trade bans imposed by other nations created a black market in places like China, but by 2017 the developing world will produce more e-waste than developed nations, according to a study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.
By 2025, the developing world is expected to produce twice as much e-waste as developed nations. The authors suggest that only direct action — such as paying backyard recyclers not to recycle — will address the problem.
Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.