What Goes Around Comes Around

trash
“control” by sacrifice_87, (flickr) under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs Generic Licence

In recent years, we have all come to hear the stories of e-waste being dumped in third world neighborhoods for dismantling. This is highlighted in a January 2008 National Geographic article called High Tech Trash. As mentioned in the article, countries like China are now limiting the amount of e-waste allowed into their country. “It doesn’t help in a global sense for one place like China, or India, to become restrictive,” says David N. Pellow, an ethnic studies professor at the University of California, San Diego, who studies electronic waste from a social justice perspective. “The flow simply shifts as it takes the path of least resistance to the bottom.”

Chris Carrol, author of the article, goes on to say that according to scientific research, e-waste may now be showing up in jewellery from China that is being sold in the United States. “Ultimately, shipping e-waste overseas may be no bargain even for the developed world.”

Carroll quotes chemist Jeffrey Weidenhamer, who says, “The U.S. right now is shipping large quantities of leaded materials to China, and China is the world’s major manufacturing center. It’s not all that surprising things are coming full circle and now we’re getting contaminated products back.”

The e-waste dilemma highlights for me the importance of global citizenship. As global citizens in a global community, e-waste is an issue we in the first world cannot pass off to unsuspecting victims in poor third world countries to forget about. E-waste affects us all. Knowing this, we have to come up with global solutions to a global problem. Will there come a time when we can work together for the good of humankind and the planet? I am hopeful that with technological connections we will.

Carroll, C., & Essik, P. (2008). High-tech trash. National Geographic, 213, 64-81.

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About sandralbecker

An educator who is passionate about the creation of a school Learning Commons, which supports inquiry, critical thinking, and collaboration.
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3 Responses to What Goes Around Comes Around

  1. kamal punit says:

    Hi Sandra,
    I think you have highlighted important issues regarding e-waste in your blog. The more I read about e waste, its disposal and the affects of technology at large, it makes me realize ill effect of technology is more to do with efforts and intentions of mankind. It is important to remember all advances eventually affect each one of us as we all share our planet together. You also point out “Ultimately, shipping e-waste overseas may be no bargain even for the developed world.” This is a clear indicator that permanent solutions that balance technology use with environmental concerns are more important than mere attempts to get rid of waste by throwing it in someone else’s “backyard”. Accordingly, Dickerson & Kisling (2009, p. 51) note, “An overwhelming amount of e-waste is illegally or unethically shipped across borders then disposed of in ways which pollute the environment and harm humans in unregulated, impoverished and under-developed areas…” The environmental challenges that we face today itself represents the due importance that it demands and probably deserves. I believe that the examples that we set for the younger generations today will leave lasting impression on their minds. After all this is inevitably going to influence our digital space as well. Just like our planet, we all do share and are responsible for the same. We all are connected locally, globally and digitally.

    References:
    Dickerson, J., & Kisling, E. (2009). Global and electronic waste: information in business education. Journal For Global Business Education, 951-60.
    Retrieved from:
    http://ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bth&AN=43278562&site=ehost-live

  2. I too am hopeful that humankind can use technology to address this global issue, even if some scientists are skeptical. “The author is rather pessimistic in terms of humankind’s ability to act timely: although catastrophes are increasing at an exponential rate, it may be too late for human action.” (Klemes, 2010, p. 587). I wonder if we will change now that we are receiving contaminated products back from China? (Carroll, 2008).

    “The problem of electronic waste disposal is especially serious in China, because of the large amount of residuals created since 1990 and because China imports a lot of materials rejected by other countries such as Japan, the United States and the countries of Europe. ” (Kasper, 2011, p. 714). The ethical side of this problem is particularly serious. Why have we in North America consciously sent our garbage to under-developed countries? “Such operations often embrace unhealthy practices such as burning and melting of plastics and metals without proper ventilation and protection.” (Dickerson & Kisling, 2009, p. 52). Air pollution effects humankind on a global level and I feel strongly this will come back to haunt us. “Is it less or more expensive to send e-waste to other countries over the long run?” (Dickerson & Kisling, 2009, p. 55). After factoring in the toll on health and the environment, the cost is astronomical.

    References

    Carroll, C., & Essik, P. (2008). High-tech trash. National Geographic, 213, 64-81.

    Dickerson, J., & Kisling, E. (2009). Global and electronic waste: information in business education. Journal For Global Business Education, 951-60. http://ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bth&AN=43278562&site=ehost-live

    Kasper, A., Bernardes, A., & Veit, H. (2011). Characterization and recovery of polymers from mobile phone scrap. Waste Management & Research: The Journal Of The International Solid Wastes & Public Cleansing Association, ISWA, 29(7), 714-726. http://ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eih&AN=62029993&site=ehost-live

    Klemeš, J. (2010). Environmental policy decision-making support tools and pollution reduction technologies: a summary. Clean Technologies & Environmental Policy, 12(6), 587-589. http://ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eih&AN=55022955&site=ehost-live

  3. caroleware says:

    It is imperative that we begin to examine these issues more closely. So many people are purchasing (our need to have the latest in technology) electronic items without ever considering their disposal and what is contained within those individual pieces. “Unregulated e-waste management creates health risks to the welfare of both humans and the environment” (Dickerson & Kisling, 2009, p. 52). We cannot only put the blame on the consumers, but also on the manufacturers. Klemes (2010) writes about a group from Brno University of Technology in the Czech Republic that “offer a new approach which lies in maximizing waste processing (sorting, recycling, incineration, etc) in the place of its production, together with emphasis to maximize efficiency of waste treatment…” (p. 589). This is what our current and future scientist need to be looking at to help solve the problems, a little pre thinking might just get us to a spot where we arent solving the problems after the fact.

    References:

    Dickerson, J., & Kisling, E. (2009). Global and electronic waste: information in business education. Journal For Global Business Education, 951-60.
    Retrieved from:
    http://ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bth&AN=43278562&site=ehost-live

    Klemeš, J. (2010). Environmental policy decision-making support tools and pollution reduction technologies: a summary. Clean Technologies & Environmental Policy, 12(6), 587-589. http://ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eih&AN=55022955&site=ehost-live

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