A Business More Profitable Than Drugs Where Mountains Of Money Gets Laundered: Electronic Waste!


According to the Basel Convention signed in Switzerland in 1989, the international transport of household appliances and technology products, which have passed their expiration dates, has been banned. However, it was soon realized that the processing and recycling of technological equipment is a costly and long-term business. This led to the "electronic garbage" market, and according to El Mundo, this market is at a level where it can compete with the drug market.

How does this happen? Read more for details.

The primary reason for the prohibition of used electronic goods transport is the high amounts of lead, mercury and cadmium contained in these devices.


The only country that did not accept the treaty was the United States (but there were some norms and measures in place). According to the plan, all countries was going to process old electronic devices with their own means and with "green" technologies. However, things didn't go as planned. The investors needed for this would not profit in a short time, so no investor could be found. During the same period, China was transitioning to the market economy. The containers that were sent full were turning empty and it was very logical to fill them with something on the way back.

The birth of electronic waste graveyards in 3rd world countries


This is precisely why electronic goods cemeteries started to form in third world countries where thousands of people work. 

Europe spends about 130m Euros per year for the importation of these rare substances (lead, mercury, cadmium, etc.) found in electronic goods. On the other hand, around 75% of the old household appliances and electronic items in Europe are disappearing from official recycling records. Apparently, it's cheaper this way.

We are faced with something that is complicated and difficult to understand.


You have the possibility of finding an old computer from Leeds, England, in the Republic of Ghana, located in west of Africa. Although legislation in the United Kingdom seems to be strict and clear, about 1.1 million tons of 1.4 million tons of electronic waste sent back here is lost to about in official records.

How is the situation in Germany?


According to experts, 100 containers of electronic waste are being sent from Germany every week. They are hidden in these types of boxes. And they are sent by such ships.

What do official organs say about this?


The German police are trying to show the struggle against this crime with various videos. Though videos are like in Hollywood movies, practically, it's a little drop in this big ocean. They usually send old home furniture and electronic appliances to countries like Ghana, India, Brazil and China under the name of "humanitarian aid".

A picture from the port of Hong Kong


A container carrying about 100 e-waste arrives here every day. Even in the best possible circumstances, it is not practically possible to trace them out of a total of 63,000 containers discharged here. It is also evaded with very little bribes even when it is detected. Thus, 56% of the world's electronic waste is collected in one place. Guiyu industrial zone in China's Guangzhou province. The rough recycling of mobile phones and computers gives its bosses nearly $ 3 billion annually.

Where do our electronic waste die?


In the US, an average citizen pays about 20 to 25 dollars to recycle their old computer. This price is included in the purchase price. Many manufacturers also have a recycling program. However, most of them use agents / subcontractors and they usually make more profitable decisions.

For example, in the US there are only 3 factories built for the recycling of electronic devices, but more than a dozen firms were caught in 2008 when they were selling computer monitors to the "black market". Whether the use of used electronic devices can last until the end of the pilot project is still in question.

You can find a brief summary of the tragedy in this video:

The wastes reach Guiyu this way. they get about $ 20 from a computer that is destroyed here. In the industrial zone of Guiyu, the warehouses, the workshops and the dumpsters cover the entire city and its surrounding villages. That's about 55,000 square meters. 

The basic working principle here is to sort by the types of clicks. Of course, there is a '' but '': There are no ecological criteria. It is possible to lose your kidneys in a short time by working here. The lead and cadmium which get in your blood are the main reasons.

Of course, there are thousands of hands that can do this for $ 3 a day, but it does not make sense to put $ 3 million for a single breakout line in our "modern" world and put a qualified worker on it. Moreover, the machines that can do this without the human power have not been produced yet.

Everything starts in the waste...


Here, the inside is separated from the body. Metal and plastic are directly recycled.

The rest goes to cities and villages.


All shipping methods are used for this. From big trucks to personal motorcycles. The e-waste delivered to the villagers is separated once more.

It is then distributed to different workshops ...


For example, they are separating old monitors here. Each has about 3-4 kg of lead.

The separation in the villages is further elaborated ...


In this photo you see PCB (printed circuit board) separation. This is one of the most expensive things.

Rough details are removed with tools such as scissors and pliers.


They use the incineration method for expensive details that can't be removed with them. The plastic parts are burnt, the required parts remain.

Then the pliers come into action again and the small details are separated into boxes according to their type.


This "process" is also done outdoors.


Every day in Guiyu, nearly 100 gigantic fires are made and a lot of electronics are being thrown here. The unnecessary ones are burnt, the valuable ones are collected by hand.

Then they are spread again and are separated this way.


The same process is done for the cables and the copper is removed from inside.


By the way, this photo was actually taken in Ghana. The world's second largest electronics garbage is here, and here are many Chinese workers.

Later, all the collected colored metals are sent to the "laboratories" where they are cleaned with acid.


Gold mine mobile phones.


Approximately 5000 kg of pure gold or 10 kg of silver can be obtained from about 5000 mobile phones. This makes about $ 40-43 thousand.

Getting $1 from the phone looks a little bit less compared to the computer, but it is definitely worth trying, because people throw away about 160 million cell phones a year.

You can't ignore plastic


Because Apple, Dell, HP and Foxconn etc., working with world giants, get a lot of plastic from these dumps.

After removal of the acid-washed materials in large coffins or silos, the waste acid is spillt into the surrounding channels and it mixes with nature.

What happens to cartridges is as follows:


The cartridges of brands like Canon, Epson, and Xerox are shredded with hammers and the remaining toner is being emptied manually. Many workers do not even know that there are special machines for toner. Interestingly, Canon has a massive recycling facility, but due to factors such as transportation and time, the mediators use these products in these wastes rather than transporting them there. As a result: after burning everything, what is left and unnecessary is thrown into rivers and city channels. Then the same water is given back to the city.

The rivers have become islands of waste.


But even under these circumstances, people fish here not die of starvation.

Drinking water is brought from the places 60-100 km away with tankers. The only consolation is that it comes a little further from the garbage. Only a small fraction of the population can get water from natural sources in the mountains.

In this way, about $ 3 billion a year is "laundered". According to different reports, between 150,000 and 300,000 people are working in Guiyu. To make a comparison, 210,000 people work in a state-owned company that meets 70% of China's coal needs.

Some earn $ 3 a day by working for 6 days and 12 hours every day.

Some are 50 years old, they work 16 hours a day without permission and earn $ 650 a month.


In this way, they can afford to pay for their children's higher education costs.

A woman takes a piece of stone and breaks the computer screen in half, and the child breaks the cables. Because it has to be assessed in the best way so that they can get money from the things they get.

The colored smoke coming out during the burning process can quickly darken their lives, but they have nothing to lose.

Most of these people came to Guiyu on purpose.


Some say that the reason they don't work at the factory is that the "child labor force" there is assessed at a lower rate.


What can we say...It's a shame...

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