System Failure

The UK's harmful trade in electronic waste

EIA’s first report into the illegal e-waste trade

Electronic Waste

Have you ever wondered what happened to the old TV you threw out last year?

Did you know your old TVs, computers, fridges and phones take on a new life as e-waste after you've disposed of them? Or that e-waste has become one of the fastest growing waste streams in the world, generating about 50 million tonnes annually, equivalent in weight to almost 7,000 Eiffel towers!

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has delved deep into the UK's murky e-waste underworld, discovering that much of the UK's e-waste is illegally shipped to Africa where it's stripped down using primitive methods for valuable component metals, with terrible environmental and human consequences. And the problem isn't isolated to Britain; many other developed countries are also dumping their e-waste in other people's back yards.

Poverty drives young children to scavenge vast e-waste dumps to help support their families, and the potential health consequences for them are dire – reproductive and developmental problems, damaged immune, nervous and blood systems, kidney damage and impaired brain development in the young.

This illegal trade in e-waste is a booming industry, fuelled by our desire to own the latest electronic goods. This is our problem and we need to solve it.

May 1st, 2012

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