back to article $19 billion made from dumped e-waste every year, says UN

A report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) claims that up to 90 per cent of the world's e-waste, which Interpol reckons is worth almost $19bn, is illegally traded or dumped annually. The report, titled Waste Crimes, Waste Risks: Gaps and Challenged in the Waste Sector, suggests that between 60 and 90 per cent …

There is a very straightforward answer to this. Make it legal, and dump any redundant electrical item in the sea, thus rendering it useless on the black market.

This has additional benefits - I would instigate a law that any technology older than three years should be disposed of in this manner, and the wealth creation and innovation can continue unabated. We need rid of these frugal elements of society who refuse to consume.

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An even more Keynesian solution. Employ people to dig big holes in the ground and bury the metals in layers in the rock. Then if labor ever win they can pay people to mine them.

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Re: Employ people to dig big holes in the ground and bury the metals in layers in the rock.

That is for radioactive waste. We can leave the mining to the political prisoners of future dictators.

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The other added 'benefit' is that it would create artificial reefs for the local fish population.

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Trollface

Tim...

... is that you?

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Eco good

The local lying weasels here are running radio ads claiming how their e-waste recycling initiative fee (Google Translate=tax) has kept 1M tons of waste out of local land fills ... by shipping it to China.

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Solution

Put e-waste into a big box in your loft. At least it won't do any harm there. You never know, one day the world might develop a proper way of dealing with it.

The cost of making something should include the cost of unmaking it.

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Re: Cost of unmaking

Funny enough, the cost of unmaking is included in the price in California (and a couple of other places according to Wikipedia), at least for electronics. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_Waste_Recycling_Fee#California

However, I'm not sure that is actually working as it was intended. My guess is the waste still winds up in China.

And given the recent abuse of container recycling (http://www.usnews.com/news/us/articles/2015/05/07/california-busts-14m-scheme-to-bring-recycling-from-arizona), it's probably being abused as well....

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Re: Cost of unmaking

I certainly pay the taxes, It hardware being the #2 line item after rent, but I've yet to find where to go for the un-making ceremony. Anecdotal but no one else seems to know either looking at their rubbish. Automotive fluids, yeah. E-waste? Not a clue.

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That's because it's not being done correctly. Assuming the objective is to ensure the waste is properly recycled the solution is relatively straightforward.

1. Charge the company at three times the estimated cost of recycling at the time the device is manufactured. They may opt to carry this charge as a payment due for the expected life of the product. (For places like the US [I'd guess EU as well] and companies like Apple, HP, and Dell, you'd assess the charge regardless of the point of manufacture.)

2. Certify recycling facilities in country for processing the waste. Monitor the hell out of them to make sure they actually recycle the waste. (Tonnage of waste received = tonnage of out-processed components)

3. Companies that use and pay the certified recyclers are issued coupons for the waste recycled. Each coupon can be used to offset one instance of the same item on the carried charge balance sheet.

Yes, it is incredibly intrusive. I'm pretty sure I'd object to such a process. But it is the sort of process you'd need as anything else is doomed to failure.

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I got voted down on this very site years ago for suggesting that this was happening.

Though you might push your e-waste to a supplier, the last one I spoke to used to take it to Heathrow Airport where it's then exported en-masse. He used to have all the correct paperwork, WEEE disposal licence, etc. and so did the other end. He was actually paid by taking spare copper (cables etc.) and melting them down, and he'd get £1 per monitor and things like that. It gave him enough that he'd collect anything over 20 items for free, load them in his van, drive them to Heathrow where they were sorted and pushed on for "recycling" in other countries.

Sorry, but it probably costs more than £1 per monitor to ship it internationally, let alone dispose of it safely. And the stuff we gave him was stuff that no amount of repair could bring back from the dead. And nasty stuff too - projectors with bulbs, printers with toner, CRT's, fridges, etc. That all costs to take care of properly.

There is no way that's being exported for recycling and then making a profit for anyone, even you could get the base cost of the raw materials back from it. They're shipping it off to countries that will happily sign off that they do "proper recycling process X" and then burying it in landfill and taking their fees for doing so.

I suspect, but similarly wouldn't be able to prove, that the same happens with an awful lot of the stuff that ends up in my council-mandated recycling bin (my council just-so-happens to use the recycling company that the councillor responsible for waste just-so-happens to own - I know, because I got him into the local papers when they stopped picking up my rubbish and did some digging, and COULD prove that). Food waste to composy? Absolutely. Paper, cardboard - sure, that's quite easy to bleach, mulch and re-use. Maybe even glass. But all those plastics? I'm not convinced that's profitable at all when they have to clean, sort, handle, melt-down, and can only use as low-grade plastics afterwards.

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Downvoted again. This time for whining about last time.

What you wrote is perfectly true, but no-one likes a cassandra.

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"Paper, cardboard - sure, that's quite easy to bleach, mulch and re-use. Maybe even glass. But all those plastics? I'm not convinced that's profitable at all when they have to clean, sort, handle, melt-down, and can only use as low-grade plastics afterwards."

I can tell you what happens to a lot of UK "recycling" - after you've painstakingly washed it and separated it, it's mixed back together and shipped to Sweden and used as fuel for energy from waste plants attached to my employer's district heating systems. And that fits nicely with the times, because the arse has dropped out of the plastic recycling market, that only ever existed when oil was $100 a barrel. Likewise there's no real money in recycling paper in the UK, because our crap headed energy and environment policies make any form of industry unwelcome here.

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"But all those plastics? I'm not convinced that's profitable at all when they have to clean, sort, handle, melt-down, and can only use as low-grade plastics afterwards."

Burn them for energy and use fresh oil to make plastics. It uses less oil overall than trying to recycle the old plastic.

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@Alan Brown

"Burn them for energy and use fresh oil to make plastics."

You have to have decent technology to burn plastics safely. The Isle of Wight tried to build a waste pryolyser that in theory would burn stuff safely, but turned out to have dioxins in the flue gases. IIRC the project went bust because there wasn't the money for scrubbers in the budget.

They may have since got it working, but the UK has a hate/hate relationship with incineration and energy from waste in general. The economics are unpredictable, and the reliability of steady volumes of combustible waste streams is subject to capricious regulations and a heady mix of untrustworthy councils and untrustworthy waste collection companies. Short of buying an airline, putting you money into UK energy from waste is one of the best ways of watching it go up in smoke.

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Re: @Alan Brown

There's been a lot testing about this and some commercial success with burning plastics from the Portland Cement companies. Not a brand name but a type. To make the cement requires very high heat which also burns the plastics and the output is "clean" as dioxin byproducts are destroyed by the heat. Some even take off the excess heat to run generators in a co-generation scheme with the power companies.

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Re: @Alan Brown

The problem is that one letter about this to the local council can have your cement operations shut down while a dozen levels of government all cover their arses with the voters by demanding inquiries and permits.

Burning waste is a huge commercial risk - even if you can do it safely and economically. Much better to ship it West Africa to be burned on bonfires.

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Re: @Alan Brown

Here in the States there's several of these in operation burning the waste. Started, as I recall, in Missouri with burning dioxin contaminated waste from flooding in an old ammo plant that had contaminated soil. They burned everything.. soil, wood, etc. It's gone on from there. Not wide spread but it is a solution. EPA and others had a lot of involvement in the testing and certification.

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Re: @Alan Brown

Yep, its relatively well known that we have much higher clean emmissions requirements and interventions for incinerating waste for energy than for directly using fossil fuel.

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Glue everything into a single unservicable lump

Make it impossible to get into, to prevent strip down or servicing.

This way, the inspectors won't be able to tell what's inside your iDevice, and you can claim it is powered by greenery and non-toxic fairy dust, and then you can chuck it in landfill without any repercussions.

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Not a single mention, that I could see in that list, of actually reducing waste at source.

Mandate that electronics sold in the EU have to have a minimum level of servicability (i.e. without the use of glue to make repair impossible) and regulations governing plans for recovery of materials when the device becomes useless.

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And there you have it, yet totally unacceptable to the oligarchs, corporations free market governments fascists.

So we're screwed.

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the rule should be that wherever its made, thats where it gets shipped back to, to reprocess.

All those dead motherboards should go back to china, all those hard drives to thailand etc

once you start enforcing that, the manufacturing companies suddenly become less competitive on price and less of a threat to our manufacturing

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No problem.

China will happily landfill anything you send back. They don't particularly care.

If they did, then they'd implement the next trick - send all electronics exports via a country that DOESN'T care but that you pay to take care of the problem. There are a lot of poor countries that will happily take 5% of the cost just to forward your electronics on an industrial scale, and take the hit of just burying toxic landfill for you when it comes back to them.

The problem is NOT one of passing responsibility back to suppliers. They are the exact people using this stuff in the first place. The problem is that not enough of the world cares about what they do with the waste, and the ones who do "care" will happily pay or legislate to just move the problem back to them. That they are the end-user, the consumer, the source of demand for these products, the people paying for them, and the people turning them from usable product into toxic waste seems to slip everyone by.

But, hey, let's blame China for the fact that we will only buy from them if it's so cheap that they have to use slave labour to make it, and then we can push the junk they produced back to them when it breaks (because nobody REPAIRS stuff any more) and make their people suffer for using the cheap components and not having the money to do a proper cleanup. And then penalise them for failing to adhere to global standards on recycling, handling waste, emissions, etc. And then still not care because they've making the iPad 9 for a price we could never make it for as we have to do all the above properly...

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Paris Hilton

For Fickle read Thicko?

Near where I live (in UK) we have home waste recycling centres. Basically they are dumps people with sufficient motivation use to discard stuff that really ought not to go in dustbin (there ain't really no dust in a dustbin), refuse can (the can did not refuse?) or domestic waste disposal container.

Now for a commercial enterprise it is all a bit different?

Commercial enterprises have to pay for waste disposal and here in the UK the Whitehall administered, managed, provided, ... commercial waste disposal system is a really nice little earner.

It is so nice that commercial entities resort to tipping waste, including and mostly always, contaminated waste in public places or farmers fields or ...

So, you see, legislation makes everyone feel proud, indicate intentions backed up by rule of law, ticks boxes in EU and UN commitments but in fact never ever really work partly because of the desire to make an additional quid, dollar, spondooly, ... rather than look after public interest?

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It's simple...

...the punishment isn't a sufficient deterrent. Prison sentences and large fines for the CEOs responsible would eliminate this problem in a hurry.

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Worried about the landfill?

You should see the mess the manufacturing sites make with toxic waste...

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20150402-the-worst-place-on-earth

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