I generally do not enjoy reading articles that have big statements without numbers (and cited sources) to back up the statements. That said, I am sure that more electronics would be recycled if there was a financial incentive to do so. Perhaps, we are thinking about this the wrong way. What if every electronic device was sold with a recycle deposit, like glass/metal containers? Even if the original owner did not recycle someone would, just to get the deposit back. What was missing from the article was the business side. Granted the environment is important but at what cost? If it costs $20 to recycle a phone and yields $3 of material then the phone will not be recycled for free, someone will have to pay for it. While I deplore the use of children/underpaid labor in 3rd world countries, I am not the guardian of them (at least the last time I checked it was not in my power). The people of those countries need to police and regulate their own country otherwise we run the risk of being viewed as busybodies. If we care then we would be already recycling properly, currently I have a few old electronic boxes that are not recycled (due to cost) and have been looking for a recycle center that would take them for free in order to get the materials for resale; so far NO one is jumping up and I can only assume that the business model does not work. Bottom line, it is going to cost someone, some amount of money to recycle; I wonder if it is worth the cost to everyone or just a few?
@RoboDevo: I couldn't have said it any better. Thank you. I too, bristle at the breathless hyperbole some authors feel compelled to write. It actually weakens any argument they were trying to make because my B.S. detectors are ringing off the wall drowning out any semblence of truth. The holier than thou attitude taken by many authors of this ilk suggesting that what we do on a normal basis is some kind of heinous crime further distances me from their message. They throw around numbers of how much of this or that can be saved. They NEVER say how much it COSTS. If there is money to be made, someone will do it. Right now, the make it worthwhile point seems to be child labor in horrific conditions. Therefore, it appears we should just carefully landfill them and get over it.
I also endorse this analysis. I would add, though, that current practices in recycling of electronics are sort of bizarre. In my area, there are occasional "e-recycle" events where most items are accepted without charge, but all "TV Sets" require payment of a $10-$20 charge. This made a bit of sense when the vast majority of recycled sets were larger (over 23 inch diag) TUBE ones. The hazards involved in handling and minimal value of the recycled materials justified the charge. However, these days that "TV set" is likely to be an LCD, with no real hazard handling issues, and likely more materials recovery value. I have one of those (19" LCD) in my basement gathering dust, unserviceable and unrepairable. Not only would I have to pay to recycle it, I'd have to take a 30-mile or so car trip to the nearest "e-cycle" event, presuming I would even find out about it before it happened.
My BS detectors also go off when I see numbers like in this article. EPA numbers supposedly show what "could be saved," in dollar amounts, by recycling phones. Saved how? By having the recycling done under the dangerous conditions described in the video?
Seems to me that recycling should be done fo the environment, without nonsensical figures about what could be "saved" in the process. More than likely, the whole truth is that recycling costs money, and that's why it doesn't happen unless it's forced to happen. If real savings could be achieved you would expect manufacturers to be begging for old phones. The fact they THEY dont should make anyone bent on hype to take a second look.
Also, there's the personality aspect of this. Pack rats never get rid of anything, and you can see clutter accumulating wherever they live. You have to kick them in the behind to make them get rid of old junk lying around. Not sure how this can be achieved.
They charge you to recycle an LCD? In my community there is a hazardous materials recycling facility that is open 6 days a week and they will take anything from electronics to motor oil to old paint cans -- anything that shouldn't go in a landfill. For residents it's free.
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