When your IT equipment dies, where does it go?

As we rip and replace our IT equipment, do we really know where the equipment is going? Do we rely care? We all know that data security is an important part of the decommissioning process. But what about the physical remains? What happens to the so-called electronic waste or e-waste? They certainly don’t go to the eternal bits and bytes fields. No, they go to places like Agbogbloshie. Have a look at this New York Times slide show.

E-waste capital Agbogbloshie

E-waste capital Agbogbloshie (c) Pieter Hugo for The New York Times

And Agbogbloshie, a slum in Accra, the capital of Ghana isn’t the only place. Sher Shah, Karachi in Pakistan, Mumbai, Chennai in India, and Guiyu in China are some other electronic-waste capitals of this globe. Dangerous, toxic, poisoned places. And they all look the same …

 E-waste capital Guiyu

E-waste capital Guiyu

 E-waste capital Mumbai

E-waste capital Mumbai

 E-waste capital Karachi, Lyari

E-waste capital Karachi, Lyari

As stated “The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, agreed to in 1989 and now adopted  by a majority of nations, was meant to stop the dumping of toxic waste in poor countries. But rules get complicated when the waste arrives as a gift.” Trade routes of the past are now used to transport 21th century toxic e-waste.

Global e-waste trade routes map

Global e-waste trade routes map

Asian e-waste trade routes map

Asian e-waste trade routes map

It is estimated that 4 million metric tons of electronic waste (e-waste) is shipped globally every year. Often in violation with the international law, e-waste is exported by developed countries to developing ones. In the US, it is estimated that 50-80 percent of the e-waste collected for recycling is being exported in this way. This practice is legal because the US has not ratified the Basel Convention.

With Green IT  much emphasis is placed on energy usage but Green IT is also about the proper decommissioning of IT components. The pictures show more then enough. There is no need to wait for ratification to take action.

Professional Green IT also means proper formal processing of electronic waste to prevent the poisoning of our environment. It is mandatory.

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One thought on “When your IT equipment dies, where does it go?

  1. Pingback: Green IT and combating E-waste crime « INFRARATI

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