Most recycled e-waste ends up overseas

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press

It's unsettling news for anyone who feels they're helping the planet by recycling their old computers, TVs and cell phones.

There's a pretty good chance that the problem of e-waste is being swept under the rug -- actually a rug located overseas.

Activists estimate that anywhere from half to 80 percent of electronics collected for recycling in the U.S. each year ends up overseas. And once it gets to places like China, India and Nigeria, workers use hammers, gas burners and even their bare hands to recover metals, glass and other recyclable materials.

That exposes the workers and the environment to a bunch of toxic chemicals.

Jim Puckett of the Basel Action Network says that warm feeling we get when we haul our old stuff off to be recycled should be tempered by the reality that while Americans may be "preserving our own environment," those efforts may end up "contaminating the rest of the world."

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