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Environment | The Circuit: Tracking America's Electronic Waste

The Hunt For Toxic E-Waste In Hong Kong Scrapyards


Dongxia Su and Jim Puckett peek over the fence of an e-waste scrapyard in the New Territories of Hong Kong.

Dongxia Su and Jim Puckett peek over the fence of an e-waste scrapyard in the New Territories of Hong Kong.

Ken Christensen, KCTS9/EarthFix

You buy a new phone or computer and you take your old one to a local recycler. It’s the green thing to do, right?

Well, it turns out a lot of those devices may not be getting recycled at all. The United States is the single largest producer of electronic waste, generating almost 8 million tons a year.

A non-profit watchdog group in Seattle, the Basel Action Network, investigates how well  electronics recycling and refurbishing programs are working. Are they living up to pledges to dismantle unwanted TVs, printers, and other items in a responsible manner? Or are they shipping them — and the toxic metals and chemicals inside — to scrapyards in developing counties?

EarthFix reported on BAN’s latest investigation, which involved the placement of hidden GPS trackers in 200 dead electronics and computer items to find out where they went. Here’s what they discovered.

WATCH The Circuit: Tracking America’s Electronic Waste

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