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July 21, 2014

A Village Made of E-waste

In the northern suburbs of Beijing, Dongxiaokou used to be the home of agriculturists and farmers. However, the village is now known for a different kind of crop. With the demand for electronics growing exponentially with each passing year, the amount of electronic waste grows as well. The village of Dongxiaokou has first-handedly seen the side effects of this electronic boom.A Village Made of E-waste

According to the StEP Initiative site, China is the “world’s second leading producer of electronic waste.” This is where the people of Dongxiaokou come in. The villagers often head to downtown Beijing where they offer residents money for this electronic waste in hopes that it can be fixed or refurbished and then resold to consumers at a lower price. This is generally how the townspeople make their money.

However, according to Business Insider, “Surviving in the village isn’t easy. Most recyclers can work on 2-3 air conditioners per day, which they can sell for $8 each. Rent for the small tenement houses in the village is around $160 a month.” While this may seem like a good response to the e-waste epidemic, there is a huge downside: the pollution.

The village is filthy. There is no proper disposal of sewage or any kind of running water. There is also the fact that “pollutants from recycling have tainted the water, leaving it with a bad smell and odd coloration. Direct contact with e-waste materials can be dangerous to workers’ health. Because the majority of recyclers are small independents, there are no regulations about how the process is carried out and many use acids or fires that are detrimental to the environment” (source: Business Insider).

While Dongxiaokou may seem like a world away, these kinds of “villages made of e-waste” are strewn throughout various developing countries. While it’s illegal, a lot of e-waste still gets shipped to these underdeveloped countries, leaving the local inhabitants with the task of getting rid of it and in the process, harming themselves and the environment.

Recycling your electronics stateside may seem like a small contribution to a large, worldwide problem, but that’s how these issues are often resolved. By recycling with Vintage Tech, we make sure parts of the electronics that can be reused are indeed reused. Non-reusable items are recycled either on-site or through an ISO-certified recycling partner nearby. We know the importance of keeping the pollutants from e-waste out of our atmosphere, and it is our mission to see that they are.

In addition to our number of collection sites throughout the nation, you can check back here on our blog for recycling events in your area. Be sure to ‘like’ us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for updates as well!