Chinese Town Becomes Graveyard of Christmas Past
With all of the focus on China exporting toxic materials to the rest of the world, it’s often lost in the media-frenzy how damaging some of the products being shipped back to China for recycling are for the people charged with breaking down the materials for recycling into something else for sale in a first-world store.
In fact, a recent report in the British Telegraph highlights the problem in one town in China which has become a virtual graveyard for all those unwanted Christmas gifts of season’s past. Perhaps not surprisingly the effects on the villagers and their children have been enormous, with 82% of children testing positive for clinical lead poisoning in recent testing.
And with everything from game consoles, laptops, and mobile phones to old Audis and Land Rovers being brought to the town of Guiyu for disassembly and eventual recycling into something else that can be exported, it’s clear that this is no small operation.
In fact, the scent of scorched metal and burning plastic hangs over the town, where the children are, in fact, often helping out with the family recycling efforts while being poisoned by the pollution around them in the process.
The Telegraph points out that there are laws in Britain against shipping E-waste back to China, but perhaps not surprisingly, unscrupulous businesspeople have found a loophole in Britain’s laws against it by buying in bulk and shipping under the guise of reselling the objects whole in China.
Subsequently, towns like Guiyu have essentially morphed into giant scrap-yards, with mothers like Wang Qing often working 10-12 hours a day for 30 days a month melting the solder that sticks the electronic components to circuit boards over a coal fire, and separating the pieces into various piles.
Seriously not fun stuff.
I guess the question is whether or not the average citizen has any way of figuring out where the materials they turn in for recycling are headed, but I suppose there simply is none.