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E-Waste Toxins Rising in China, India

What happens to electronic equipment like computers, VCRs, telephone gear, batteries, televisions, CD players, cell phones, floppy disks, and camcorders when they’re obsolete, broken, or simply no longer wanted by consumers desiring better and faster devices?

Often, this so-called “e-waste” ends up in local landfills, clandestinely (and illegally) disposed of by their owners or unwittingly hauled off my municipal waste disposal agencies. Conscientious consumers sometimes try to donate old gear, or take their unwanted electronics to recycling centers (often for a hefty fee) or firms which repurpose still-working items for schools, non-profit organizations, or merely for resale. And a precious few electronics manufacturers actually run their own recycling or “takeback” programs whereby customers can turn in old products for proper disposal, and sometimes earn credit toward new products.

Once collected, however, e-waste from industrialized nations like the United States may be illegally exported to developing countries for recycling or disposal, where the dangerous work which is often performed in unsafe conditions by migrant workers

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