For years, “recyclers” have been exporting hazardous e-waste to developing countries. Although this is illegal many companies have found ways to bypass restrictions and send it across seas. In 2014, BAN (Basel Action Network) started the e-Trash Transparency Project to expose some of the offenders. The project began by installing 200 tracking devices into used non-functional electronic equipment. Then they dropped off the equipment at various e-waste recyclers and drop-off locations. One company BAN had on their radar, due to prior complaints, was Goodwill. Goodwill had been a long-standing computer recycling partner with, the personal computer manufacturer, DELL.
MIT-SCL (Massachusetts Institute of Technology Senseable City Lab) was brought on to assist with monitoring the trackers. MIT-SCL developed a way to visualize the tracking data on a map. This tracking data eventually led BAN’s investigative team to China. What BAN discovered next was shocking. PBS Newshour covered the story in a series titled “The Circuit, Tracking down America’s electronic waste“. In the PBS video below BAN journeys through China to see where the e-waste ends up and the impact of the unlawful distribution.
To learn more about responsible and safe e-waste recycling view our Certified Recycling and Ewaste Recycling video below: