E-waste’s Harmful Effects on African Laborers

For developing countries in areas such as West Africa, local workers often view e-waste processing as a lifeline. It’s a means to secure a meager amount of income to help keep food on the table. Often children and the elderly are used to abstract precious metals from discarded mobile phones, computers, monitors, wires and other electronic waste.  However, most are unaware of the harmful effects that improper e-waste handling has on their health.

Unfortunately, these countries do not have the resources necessary to safely dispose of e-waste so the lives of these laborers are being put at risk. Primitive methods like burning or washing with hydrochloric acid are used in these regions to dismantle e-waste to recover precious metals. Research shows that these methods are extremely harmful to human health and toxic to the environment.

E-waste contains highly toxic concentrations of chemicals and heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium. When these toxins accumulate in our food chain through soil and groundwater, the effects can be deadly.

The problem is worsened by developed nations that regularly export their toxic e-waste by the tons to these developing countries who are not equipped or trained to properly handle the toxic materials. Currently, there is no legislation in the U.S. that bans such practices, but the Responsible Electronics Recycling Act has been reintroduced into Congress.

This makes it imperative to choose an e-Stewards certified electronics recyclers when disposing old cell phones and other end-of-life electronic devices. e-Stewards recyclers and their downstream vendors adhere to the most stringent global standards for worker safety and environmental protection. E-Stewards certified recyclers are regularly audited to ensure no e-waste is sent to landfills or exported to developing countries. The certification also prohibits the use of slave, coerced or prison labor in the processing e-waste.

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e-Cycle is the trusted wireless mobile buyback and recycling partner for many of the largest organizations in the world. As the first mobile recycling company to achieve e-Stewards certification, we adhere to the highest standards for environmental responsibility and worker health and safety. e-Cycle offers a simple, secure, environmentally responsible and profitable way for businesses to sell and recycle used mobile phones and tablets. Learn more at www.e-Cycle.com.

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