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Chinese city is world's digital scrap heap
Tech Business
Written by Gizmo   
Thursday, 28 May 2009 10:24
- Knight Ridder Newspapers
GUIYU, China—When discarded computers vanish from desktops around the world, they often end up in Guiyu, which may be the electronic-waste capital of the globe.

The city is a sprawling computer slaughterhouse. Instead of offal and blood, its runoff includes toxic metals and acids. Some 60,000 laborers toil here at primitive e-waste recycling—if it can be called that—even as the work imperils their health.

Computer carcasses line the streets, awaiting dismemberment. Circuit boards and hard drives lie in huge mounds. At thousands of workshops, laborers shred and grind plastic casings into particles, snip cables and pry chips from circuit boards. Workers pass the boards through red-hot kilns or acid baths to dissolve lead, silver and other metals from the digital detritus. The acrid smell of burning solder and melting plastic fills the air.

"I don't think this is recycling," said Wu Song, an environmental activist from nearby Shantou University. "They ignore the environment."


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