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Where Do Our Recyclable Electronics Go? The Electronic Wasteland!

Okay - I admit it - I am just 1 year into my Blackberry contract and I am already lusting for a new one.   My Bad!  What about the environmental impact for tossing away my cell phone as 100 million people in the U.S. do each year?

No worries - I'll recycle and feel totally guilt free as I stroll into my neighborhood Sprint store and toss down my plastic.   My Good?  My Bad? It all depends.

Recycling is a great mechanism to make ourselves feel good about all the waste we produce. But what happens to the electronics we recycle?  According to a 60 Minutes expose that was rerun this past Sunday, it is often not what you think.

Recycled Electronics

Recycling of electronic equipment in the U.S. is supposed to end up in environmentally controlled plants. In the 60 Minutes expose, they actually followed the trail of a particular container of electronics and ended up taking a mysterious and unplanned trip to China!  It ended up at a disgusting and environmentally hazardous electronic dump where workers try to melt and extract hazardous materials in incredibly dangerous environments.   Consequently the children living nearby show dangerously high lead levels.  This is the U.S. dumping their toxic waste on the poor Chinese workers who make 8 dollars a day dealing with our poisons which our laws are designed to prevent.

So what can I do besides feel guilty?  I can keep my Blackberry a bit longer or give it to somebody in need, but what about those 2 dead computers in the garage?  

If I end up using a local recycling service, I can call and ask them exactly where the recycled goods go.  It might not stop them from lying to me but it helps to have an eye on them.  I'll research them on the Internet.  I'll do more than just dropping it off without thinking twice.