Mounting e-waste a global problem

Ashley Milne-Tyte Feb 22, 2010
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Mounting e-waste a global problem

Ashley Milne-Tyte Feb 22, 2010
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TEXT OF STORY

Steve Chiotakis: The U.N. releases a report today on a growing problem: e-waste — discarded cell phones, computers, and other gadgets. Yeah, it’s an issue right here in the United States, but as
Ashley Milne-Tyte reports, it could be an even bigger problem in the developing world.


Ashley Milne-Tyte: Take India: the report says 10 years from now, the number of dumped computers there will jump 500 percent. And “recycling: often means handing your old gadgets off to a guy down the block. He scours the insides for valuable metals and trashes the rest.

Ruediger Kuehr is with United Nations University, a U.N. think tank. He says many metals are in such high demand that we need to re-use them. But street recyclers end up extracting only small amounts from phones and computers.

Ruediger Kuehr: And if you start calculating how much money you are wasting by not getting these valuables out of the equipment again, we are easily talking about several billions of U.S. dollar each year ending up on landfills.

He says it’s time to help poorer countries maximize the recycling of both metals and junk. That said, consumers also need to be educated. U.N. research shows very few Europeans recycle their phones.

I’m Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.

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