Monday, May 23, 2005

Electronic Waste

No, not the crap that floats around the blogosphere from Little Green Footballs and such...junked computer parts, circuit boards, monitors...

According to Greenpeace China, China has become one of the world's major dumping grounds for electronic waste:
As much as 4,000 tonnes of toxic e-waste is discarded in the world every hour, equivalent to the weight of 1,000 elephants, the global environmental group said in a statement on Monday.

While there is no breakdown on how much of the global electronic waste ends up in China, Greenpeace said the country was a favorite dumping ground, with many of the world's electronic products being made there.

Although China has banned electronic waste from being imported, companies still export the waste there illegally while a lot more is generated domestically, said Greenpeace campaigner Yue Yihua.
This story has been covered at length in publications like the New York Times, but this is the first time that I have heard reference to Greenpeace China, which in best activist style, on Monday "tried to shame electronics companies attending a show in Beijing by unveiling a 2.7-metre (8.9-foot) high statue shaped as a wave, built using the companies' electronic waste collected from e-waste recycling yards in Guiyu."

As I've mentioned in these pages before, I think China's environmental movement is hopeful on many levels, not the least of which is its capacity to encourage and develop citizen activists who are raising awareness, helping to generate a real public discussion of the issues and perhaps even creating a genuine political force outside of the CCP's monopoly. If there are seeds for a more democratic China, I wouldn't be surprised if a good number of them were planted by China's environmentalists.

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