Point/Counterpoint from chapter 14. Take a stand. Do you agree or disagree? Write a minimum of...

Point/Counterpoint from chapter 14. Take a stand. Do you agree or disagree? Write a minimum of one paragraph for each one.

Chapter 14

Exporting E-waste: A Fair Solution?


Yes Exporting is always and everywhere a win-win situation: The more companies and countries export, the more they improve market efficiency. Exporting enables companies to increase sales, improve productivity, and diversify activities. Likewise, exporting helps countries generate jobs, accelerate innovation, and improve living standards. In broader terms, it promotes connections among countries that improve foreign relations and stabilize international affairs. Despite these virtues, some contend there is a dark side of exporting, namely the trade of hazardous waste in the form of obsolete tech equipment. E-waste—trash composed of computers, monitors, electronics, game consoles, hard drives, television, smartphones, and other items—inexorably increases as the Information Age rolls on. In 2006, nearly 66 million used electronic components were collected for reuse or recycling in the United States; most were exported. By 2016, e-waste was pushing several hundred million pieces, representing more than 4 million tons.58 Ongoing trends crank out newer, cooler, faster, smaller, fancier devices that, in replacing their predecessors and then eventually being replaced themselves, will increase e-waste nearly 500 percent over the next decade. Where Should E-waste Go? Where to put all this e-trash is a tough question. Many countries and municipalities in the United States, for example, ban outright dumping of e-waste in local landfills. This legislation means that disposing of e-waste products, when possible, in any given industrialized country costs from $2,500 to $4,000 a ton. In contrast, untreated waste can be sold to countries in Africa and Asia—where it will be recycled, reused, or dumped—for reportedly as little as $50 a ton.59 Low costs are a result of cheap labor, different environmental regulations, and growing processing capacity. Plus, the absence of public opposition reduces processing expenses and desperate folks seeking work dampens public objections. As might be expected, major e-waste shipping routes show that the industrial nations export the bulk of their e-waste to developing countries, notably China, Malaysia, India, Mexico, Nigeria, and Bangladesh (see Map 14.1).60 Benefits for All Exporting e-waste to recycling centers throughout the world is an efficient solution to an escalating problem. First and foremost, recycling sustains our resources and helps us protect the environment. In developing countries, industries have sprung up to recycle old computers, monitors, circuit boards, scanners, printers, routers, cell phones, and network cards. While rudimentary, these industries create jobs in places where jobs are hard to find and difficult to sustain. To their credit, developing countries have converted their superior location economics into vital jobs, income, and markets. There are more than 6,000 businesses employing 100,000 workers at ground zero of the e-waste trade: Guiyu, China. Previously subsistence farmers and fishermen, they now process an endless stream of truckloads of e-waste that arrive daily.61 Mexico has similar spots, many waiting for the 18-wheelers full of spent batteries from cars, phones, computer, solar appliances, and tools that cross the U.S.–Mexican border each day. Again, the locals benefit. Despite the dangerous, dirty work of recycling spent batteries, people living near the Acumuladores de Jalisco plant find opportunity. As the wife of one worker said, “There are not many other jobs around here.”62 Similarly, exporting e-waste helps entrepreneurs in developing countries create value by recovering, recycling, and reusing scarce resources. Copper, a valuable commodity, can represent nearly 20 percent of a mobile phone’s total weight. Rising commodity prices have made these activities quite profitable. Atul Maheshwar, owner of a recycling depot in India, says of U.S. exports, “If your country keeps sending us the material, our business will be good.”63 In addition, some of the equipment shipped to Asia helps improve the local standard of living. Graham Wollaston of Scrap Computers, a recycler in Phoenix, claims that virtually every component of old electronic devices is reusable. Old televisions turn into fish tanks in Malaysia, while silicon shortage creates demand for old monitors elsewhere. “There’s no such thing as a third-world landfill,” Mr. Wollaston explains. “If you were to put an old computer on the street, it would be taken apart for the parts.”64 Similarly, Luc Lateille of the Canadian firm BMP Recycling says, “We don’t send junk—we only send the materials that they are looking for.”65 Exporting hazardous waste also helps MNEs improve their social responsibility. Samsung, Mitsubishi, and Nokia, among others, increasingly take a cradle-to-grave responsibility for their products. The eCycling Leadership Initiative, launched in 2010, commits makers of consumer electronics to recycle a billion pounds of e-waste responsibly by 2016; in 2011, members spent more than $100 million to recycle about 500 million pounds of old electronics. Elsewhere, state regulation spurs laggards to support green recycling. Since 2004, more than 20 U.S. states have required manufacturers to recycle used electronics. Like-minded laws are on deck in other states. Companies often comply by exporting their e-waste to countries that have an interest in recycling and the infrastructure to do it. A Tough Solution Certainly, callous companies dump useless, toxic e-waste around the world. And, yes, some of it pollutes landfills, poisons waterways, and fouls the air. Overall, though, exporting e-waste works for citizens, consumers, companies, and countries. Ultimately, nations really don’t have a choice. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, for example, concedes inappropriate practices have occurred in the recycling of e-waste, but suggests stopping its export is not truly practical. Likewise, poor nations really have no choice; they must generate income some way or condemn themselves to poverty.


no In theory, recycling is beneficial and exporting e-waste does improve efficiency. Still, recycling your e-waste does not always mean you’re doing the right thing. Explained the director of the Basel Action Network, “The dirty little secret is that when you take [your electronic waste] to a recycler, instead of throwing it in a trashcan, about 80 percent of that material, very quickly, finds itself on a container ship going to a country like China, Nigeria, India, Vietnam, Pakistan— where very dirty things happen to it.”66 Added the chief executive of RSR, a Dallas-based lead recycler that operates solely in the United States, “We’re shipping hazardous waste to a neighbor ill-equipped to process it, and we’re doing it legally, turning our heads, and pretending it’s not a problem.”67 Growing exports of hazardous waste encourage dangerous recycling industries in many developing countries. Going forward, exports will accelerate as e-waste increases far faster than other sorts of rubbish. Collectively, the tsunami of e-trash imposes far more costs than the pittance that recycling it generates. A Witch’s Brew Most developing countries lack the regulatory codes or disposal infrastructure to safeguard against such dangers. Locals often use crude methods that, besides being illegal in the United States, expose workers and residents to a witch’s brew of toxins. For example, some e-waste contains trace amounts of precious metals like copper and silver. Extracting them encourages cash-strapped, loosely regulated recyclers to use unsafe, antiquated open-air incineration methods. Burning electronic parts to separate copper, solder, or other metals from plastic coatings releases dioxins and other hazardous chemicals. Indeed, snagging that sliver of silver unleashes a mixture of more than a thousand chemicals, including toxic metals (e.g., lead, barium, and mercury), flame-retardants, cadmium, acids, plastics, and chlorinated and brominated compounds. Local air quality suffers as “circuit boards are burned after acid washing, spewing deadly smoke and exposing workers and people living around these facilities.”68 Once local scrap shops finish disassembling equipment, the trash goes into public landfills, the acid runoff flows into groundwater, and the noxious fumes follow air currents—all mercilessly contaminating the environment. Casual Inhumanity Madhumita Dutta of Toxics-Link Delhi argues that these problems are less disturbing than the “appalling” working conditions in recycling facilities: “Everything from dismantling the computer to pulling out parts of the circuit boards to acid-washing boards to recover copper is done with bare hands without any protective gear or face protection.” Rare is the worksite that uses proper disposal practices. Workers and society, to say nothing of environmental sustainability, suffer. What, then, of the premise of charity—that is, sending computer equipment from countries where it has little use to countries where it can make a difference? Critics shred this straw man, asserting that wealthier countries and powerful companies conveniently donate obsolete equipment to dodge high recycling expenses. “Too often, justifications of ‘building bridges over the digital divide’ are used as excuses to obscure and ignore the fact that these bridges double as toxic waste pipelines,” said one critic.69 Moreover, most of the computer equipment sent is worthless trash—waste that can be neither repaired nor resold.70 Institutional Gaps Some argue that manufacturers need to step up and take full responsibility for the hazardous materials they used to build products that had earned them profits.71 Companies have moved in this direction, sponsoring green campaigns to recycle e-waste. Substantive progress has been slow, however. Environmentalists recommend that countries set tougher standards to monitor, control, and certify cross-border shipments of e-waste. That has proven disappointing. Inspections of e-waste cargo headed from European seaports to developing countries, for example, found that nearly half was illegal.72 Then again, presumed solutions can lead to unintended problems. The fact that many U.S. states require companies to take responsibility for recycling electronic equipment has curtailed the export of e-waste to developing countries—but only of the more valuable components. Processors cherry-pick parts that can be refurbished for reuse. The remainder is disassembled, with urban miners targeting silver, gold, and palladium. The final batch of trash, the worst of the worst, has no reuse market and is shipped to developing countries for disposal.73 Who to Turn To? Others endorse stronger enforcement of the Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, a United Nations treaty that regulates the generation, management, movements, and disposal of hazardous waste. It proposes aggressive measures, including an international ban on the export of all toxic waste, no matter whether for recovery, recycling, reuse, or final disposal. As of 2015, 182 states and the European Union are parties to the Convention. Haiti and the United States have signed the Convention but not ratified it.74 ​​​​​​​

Homework Answers

Answer #1


I completely disagree with exporting; I don’t like to use exporting E waste as a good thing. Then question is why? Yes, I have answer for that,

Exporting E-waste may be beneficial for too many people, such as getting job or financial benefits for some kind of people or a lot of people, but always it is enough to make a country in a zero position, means will effect in their country. It will make negative effect on countries accepting E waste, they may be importing for financial benefit, but It will distract the good health and good atmosphere in the country, such as local air quality suffers as “circuit boards are burned after acid washing, spewing deadly smoke and exposing workers and people living around these facilities.


I agree with recycling e-waste with 100%. Because recycling in same country is the most appropriate and good for all technique. Recycling won’t lead to problematic situation, such as health issues or any atmosphere problem etc., but will be beneficial for all economically and in all ways. I support recycling always. Recycling benefits has been described verily in the question.

Know the answer?
Your Answer:

Post as a guest

Your Name:

What's your source?

Earn Coins

Coins can be redeemed for fabulous gifts.

Not the answer you're looking for?
Ask your own homework help question
Similar Questions