The Acts of the Democracies




Pollution in China

A report is published by a coalition of environmental groups led by the Basle Action Network (BAN). The report (Exporting Harm, The Hi-Tech Trashing of Asia) describes how between 50% and 80% of electronic goods collected for recycling in Western countries are sent to Asia where there are weaker environmental laws and lower waste handling costs.

In southern China, 100,000 migrant workers strip computers of valuable parts and dump poisonous waste products containing lead, barium, phosphorus and mercury into fields and rivers where they seep into the water supply poisoning local wells. In some areas water has to be trucked in from up to 30km away. Workers use rudimentary tools to extract tin, aluminium and copper parts for resale.

BAN estimates that the world's 500 million computers contain 2,870 thousand million kg of plastic, 716,700,000kg of lead and 286,700kg of mercury.

These actions violate the Basle Convention of 1994 which attempts to control the shipment of hazardous waste across international borders. The Convention has been signed by 149 countries including all 15 members of the European Union. The USA has refused to sign the Convention.

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