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What We Don't Want Anymore

We know that our banana peels and bread wrappers go to the landfill.  We know (hopefully) that our recyclable cans, bottles, newspapers, etc. go to appropriate facilities.  But how about our computers?  Our ships?  The byproducts and residue from making the stuff we use?  What we often don't know (and maybe don't really want to know) is that these things often end up in Third World countries.

Since 2000, it's been illegal to import electronic waste into China.  But tons of debris are smuggled in with legitimate imports, corruption is common among local officials, and China's appetite for scrap is enormous.  Appalling processing practices have left some water supplies undrinkable since the mid-'90s.

Garbage Cowboys, unscrupulous traders who transfer poisonous cargos from other vessels and "fly-tip" them in developing countries, have used the chaos in Somalia as a smokescreen behind which to make deals with local warlords to let them dump toxic wastes there.

 


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