Amerikan E-Waste Poisons Chinese
E-waste increasingly flows from the U.S. to the Third World. E-waste is made up of computers, cell phones, and other electronics that have been thrown away. For example, Amerikans throw out 133,000 computers a day and 100 million cell phones a year. Electronics contain harmful, toxic materials such as lead, cadmium, mercury, chromium, and polyvinyl chlorides. These materials are known to cause cancer, brain damage, kidney disease, etc. This toxic e-waste is the fastest growing part of the municipal waste stream in the U.S.
How does e-waste get from point a to point b? There are dozens of corporations that are contracted to dispose of e-waste. One such company is Executive Recycling out of Englewood, Colorado. Executive Recycling promotes itself as an eco-friendly corporation, sponsoring Earth Day events and a “Go Green” campaign in Colorado, for example. They are a corporation that is contracted to dispose of e-waste in an environmentally safe manner. The Executive Recycling web page even warns of the dangers to Amerikans that e-waste poses: “Here in Colorado, residential customers are not governed by law to recycle electronics; however by putting these items in the trash we are causing a larger issue, as these items leach mercury, lead, and other hazardous elements into our drinking water.”
So, how does Executive Recycling keep Amerikans safe from toxic e-waste? Rather than expose Amerikans to their own hazardous trash, Executive Recycling dumps it on Chinese. A recent story by the news journal 60 Minutes documents how toxic materials are shipped by Executive Recycling, and other First World recycling companies, from Amerika to destinations in China.
One destination is Guiyu, China. It is a city with a growing population, where peasants have come after being driven off the land. The ex-peasants breakdown and burn old computers and other electronics. They earn a few dollars a day dealing with highly toxic materials without protective equipment. They report that their lungs burn and they have trouble breathing. Their skin is damaged with scars and burns. The local water has become undrinkable. Drinking water has to be trucked in. Guiyu has the highest level of cancer-causing dioxins in the world. Seven out of ten children have too much lead in their blood. Miscarriages are six times more likely there.
The Amerikan high-tech lifestyle produces poisons that are forced upon the impoverished peoples of the Third World. Not only do Third World peoples slave away in factories producing consumer goods for Amerikans for pennies an hour, Third World peoples also have to recycle Amerikans’ toxic trash. Capitalist-imperialism poisons Third World peoples in order to maintain the Amerikan way of life. This is yet another example of how the First World lives on the backs of the Third World, exporting the cost of its lifestyle to the majority of the world’s people.
Amerikans have help in poisoning the Chinese population. The Chinese state turns a blind eye. In the 1970’s, Chinese self-determination and independent socialist development was replaced with brutal comprador capitalism. Today, the Chinese state sells the labor and health of its people to imperialism in order to make a buck. The First World and its Third World lackeys will continue to ruin the lives of Third World peoples until imperialism is defeated, until Third World peoples seize control of their own destinies.