Target: Ken Calvert, Interior Subcommittee Chairman, Committee on Appropriations
Goal: Persuade Congress to enact legislation that would provide funds so that more citizens would have better access to responsible options for recycling of e-waste
When consumer electronics such as computers, flat screen monitors, DVD players or any other device containing electronic circuits are discarded, many find their way to places like Agbogbloshie, a town in Ghana. There, at the world’s largest e-waste dump, workers dismantle and burn the e-waste in order to recover the valuable metals found within it.
The majority of these workers are young men and boys working for as little as one or two dollars a day, who are exposed every day to fumes containing neurotoxins, laden from the burning of e-waste. Workers often sustain burns and eye injuries on the job. They suffer numerous medical problems such as brain and kidney illness, chronic nausea and headaches, but these are only the acute effects of the toxins they breathe – it’s been reported that many workers at Agbogbloshie die of cancer in their twenties.
In the U.S. there are e-waste recycling options for consumers that offer options for disposing of e-waste responsibly, but many of these are manufacturer specific or charge a fee, and not every town has a place to drop off e-waste for recycling. Surely Congress could appropriate funding to ensure that the majority of localities have a drop-off center for responsible e-waste recycling, thus significantly reducing the amount of e-waste that this country sends overseas to be burned and tended by boys and young men who pay the ultimate price.
Often, when people discard an old, broken or unwanted electronic device, it winds up at an e-waste dump where young men and boys break up and burn it for the sake of recovering valuable metals for their boss, at grave peril. Many of them don’t survive beyond their twenties, but if provision can be made for people in this country to recycle their e-waste in a responsible manner, such as through a recycling facility that uses third party audits to ensure that the e-waste isn’t just being sold to a dump like the one in Agbogbloshie, Ghana, then fewer young people will suffer.
If Congress, under the auspices of the Environmental Protection Agency, mounts a fully funded drive to make responsible e-waste recycling (like Hewlett Packard’s program) available to all citizens, either at no cost or for a nominal fee, not only would the lives of many young people be vastly improved, but at the same time, many tons of harmful toxins could be kept out of the environment.
Please bring this matter before your committee and give our consumers a clear conscience in the matter of safe disposal of electronics.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Marlenenapoli via Wikimedia Commons