E-waste: How big of a problem is electronic waste?

According to a new report, the world’s e-waste — discarded smart phones, iPads, and televisions — will grow by 33 percent to 72 million tons in just three years. Dan Ackerman, editor at CNet, joins “CBS This Morning: Saturday” with more on how to combat this troubling trend.


Guiyu, China (CNN) — Did you ever wonder what happens to your old laptop or cellphone when you throw it away?

Chances are some of your old electronic junk will end up in China.

On seemingly every street, laborers sit on the pavement outside workshops ripping out the guts of household appliances with hammers and drills. The roads in Guiyu are lined with bundles of plastic, wires, cables and other garbage. Different components are separated based on their value and potential for re-sale. On one street sits a pile of green and gold circuit boards. On another, the metal cases of desktop computers.

At times, it looks like workers are reaping some giant plastic harvest, especially when women stand on roadsides raking ankle-deep “fields” of plastic chips.

In one workshop, men sliced open sacks of these plastic chips, which they then poured into large vats of fluid. They then used shovels and their bare hands to stir this synthetic stew.

“We sell this plastic to Foxconn,” one of the workers said, referring to a Taiwanese company that manufactures products for many global electronics companies, including Apple, Dell and Hewlett-Packard.

According to a recent United Nations report, “China now appears to be the largest e-waste dumping site in the world.”

E-waste, or electronic waste, consists of everything from scrapped TVs, refrigerators and air conditioners to that old desktop computer that may be collecting dust in your closet.

Many of these gadgets were initially manufactured in China. Through a strange twist of global economics, much of this electronic junk returns to China to die.
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25 thoughts on “E-waste: How big of a problem is electronic waste?”

  1. What isn't said is the real reason why these companies buy back and why recycling companys want you to recycle for free.. people can actually strip there e waste and remove the gold, copper, platinum, silver and other valued metals and sell for a profit

  2. copper wires nails staplers screws cars tractors trailer trucks radios recycling reusable industrials

  3. I will never understand wi they call it a problume when the truth is its not a problume a problume would be something we cant control but e wast we can and but the government refuses to let us. if you ask any nerd who loves computers and electronics if they want the old stuff they would take it and so would a lot of people who recycle it but in sted the government in the us and maney other countries prevent people from having it to the point that even if you try to buy it from a dump they will tell you under federal law we cant sell anything we take in

  4. I know how we deal with it; how about companies like Google stop pushing new web standards every 5 minutes! Because once a computer becomes obsolete for the internet, it's regarded as 'useless' in the eyes of consumers… why does nobody think about this? It isn't JUST because everyone wants the new thing. I can't believe people aren't blaming the internet for getting heavier and heavier… your old computer doesn't suddenly become slower because of age, things like the internet get harder for it to push!

  5. green peace is misguiding whole world. green peace finds pollution in china and india but it do not look in america. america is worlds number 1 crude oil consumer.

  6. i think their should be laws that you cant dump electronic you have to recycle. I dont know why people dont recycle more at least in canada youll get paid for it

  7. Good video. Its nothing new to me. I been doing this all my life right in the United States.People throw away gold. lol

  8. I plan on changing this problem by creating an ewaste business that will recycle every bit of the ewaste all the way down to the component level and the circuit board level. The plastic will be recycled into fuel oil. and the other ewaste will be desoldered in a safe environment and not just shredded that seems to be the norm. Watch for my business starting up soon. I will also recycle the neodymium as well.

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