The dark side of electronic waste recycling

  • Published on Dec 4, 2019
  • Electronic waste is a hazardous and difficult form of garbage to manage. Though a lot of e-waste can be recycled responsibly, many e-waste processors choose instead to ship it overseas for junkyards in poorer nations to deal with. Remarkably, exporting e-waste is perfectly legal in the US...but thanks to a scrappy nonprofit watchdog, some unscrupulous exporters are still going to jail.
    Read more:
    Like Verge Science on Facebook:
    Follow on Twitter:
    Follow on Instagram:
    Read More:
    Community guidelines:
    Subscribe to Verge on TVclip for explainers, product reviews, technology news, and more:
  • Science & TechnologyScience & Technology

Comments • 1 448

  • Verge Science
    Verge Science  Month ago +536

    Do you recycle your electronic waste?

    • Christopher Hughes
      Christopher Hughes 11 days ago

      Verge Science I’ve just been holding on to my ewaste because it’s still too hard to responsibly get rid of it.

    • Carson Reinhart
      Carson Reinhart 14 days ago

      @cheezypoof Pun intended?

  • yao
    yao 3 days ago

    I suppose all Recycle companies have some anti-GPS tracker technology now. I think it isn't hard to make something to find a GPS emitter.

  • jaymorpheus11
    jaymorpheus11 4 days ago +1

    Good thing computers are getting smaller, laptops weighing 3-5 lbs vs 40 for desktops. Oled tvs are lighter and tighter than lcds even...super slim tvs just on the horison.

  • juggerfox
    juggerfox 4 days ago +1

    Most people in "developed countries" are completely disconnected from their surroundings.
    Food is another example. Millions of animals are killed every day, unnecessarily, to end-up like triangular steaks or burger patties. Growing these animals is literally destroying the world we can live in, from the ozone to the ocean. And barely anybody is conscious of how their food ended up on their plate.
    Things just appear when you buy them and disappear when you bin them. The "from where" and "to where" is completely ignored.

  • Scott Vanderzanden
    Scott Vanderzanden 5 days ago

    Eh it’s chinas problem who cares

  • FA
    FA 5 days ago

    I doubt that it actually make it to the Asia, more likely it is just dumped somewhere in the ocean half way to there.

  • Cory R
    Cory R 10 days ago

    Why not just grind up all the circut boards in shredders and use a chemical solution/acids to extract the precious metals?

  • iNESi4N
    iNESi4N 10 days ago

    I'm hooked with this kinda vid 💌

  • GixxerDrei
    GixxerDrei 13 days ago

    The faster we kill the planet and the human race goes extinct the faster the planet can reboot and heal itself:) "Human beings are a disease, a cancer on this planet..."

  • hidden nugget
    hidden nugget 13 days ago +1

    Who throws away a phone?? It sits in a drawer.

  • StrawberryPuppyKisses xoxo

    28 months prison for 2 million extra dollars hmm worth or nah? Hard question

  • Xtreme Performance
    Xtreme Performance 14 days ago

    Shredding material is the best way once the boards have been cleaned down. Remove everything possible and only pcbs get shredded than run through a solution where electricity and copper is used to recover precious metals such as Gold, silver and platinum group metals. Than base metals. Once you collect all your metals you can refine your solution down and reuse it

  • Cliff Sullivan
    Cliff Sullivan 15 days ago

    Philippines ship plastics back to

  • Spookay T'is Me
    Spookay T'is Me 15 days ago

    Mercury doesn't magically turn into vapour if someone hits something like a laptop/phone/camera with a hammer.

    • Spookay T'is Me
      Spookay T'is Me 15 days ago

      It could if you were exposing it to very high temperatures, like melting it down... But there's no need to mislead viewers about details like THAT

  • Amaziah of Judah
    Amaziah of Judah 16 days ago

    capitalism is cancer

  • Fun Fact & More
    Fun Fact & More 16 days ago

    That's can be used internationally

  • Fun Fact & More
    Fun Fact & More 16 days ago

    Please tell me

  • Fun Fact & More
    Fun Fact & More 16 days ago

    Which Tracker device used by

  • leonard witucke
    leonard witucke 16 days ago

    Pollution isn't murder. I was with you until you injected your politics.

  • Porcelain Throne
    Porcelain Throne 16 days ago

    Get that gold fools! Lol

  • Don Mega
    Don Mega 16 days ago

    My guess is those monitors blinking red/green/blue lights are running a software to check (and possibly fix) stuck pixels. Some people may throw their monitor away just cos of that without even bothering to test if it could be fixed. Or more likely they were replaced by a better monitor to begin with.

  • Don Mega
    Don Mega 16 days ago

    Just like Red Cross' donation money ends up in the pockets of millionaires. We're bit by bit finding out the world is filled with corruption, and as economies of the world keep worsening despite ever higher GDP it's only gonna get worse. The end result is even if they actually gave a damn they wouldn't "afford" to get rid of this junk.

  • fessit
    fessit 17 days ago

    That is so sad.

  • CtrlFreak
    CtrlFreak 17 days ago

    The moment when you realise your poster boy isn't doing what they say they were doing

  • bs itis
    bs itis 18 days ago

    All the electronic devices are made disposable , along with toys , lighters , batteries , clothing , furniture , cars , jobs , families , communities , everything , , ,
    G I G O ! Wall Street ,
    what goes in must come out

  • Thomas Conrow
    Thomas Conrow 19 days ago

    No, it's not a form of murder. Murder requires murderous intent.

  • CGM
    CGM 19 days ago +3

    Love how they just traveled to Asia to prove it was their lmao

  • Marcus Kent Hamson
    Marcus Kent Hamson 19 days ago

    Went to to find a recycler. There isn't one within 3 hours of my city. So what do us people in TN, MS and AL do with our e-waste?

  • Almubarak Abdullah
    Almubarak Abdullah 19 days ago


  • Bob Young
    Bob Young 19 days ago

    This is sad. It seems as if there are enough valuable materials in a computer - metals, for example; some plastics; wiring - that could be recycled for use here in the United States.

  • Jacob Parker
    Jacob Parker 20 days ago

    Almost makes me wanna start a e waste business

  • John Thomas
    John Thomas 20 days ago

    I spent 10 years managing in the scrap metal, salvage, and demolition business and I can certainly tell you theres is a lot more to these stories than you “earth savers” would ever cover. Instead of trashing the small businesses that are ACTUALLY working on the problem why don’t you go after apple, IBM, Samsung, etc.... that ACTUALLY created it?

  • Elijah Anderson
    Elijah Anderson 20 days ago

    If anyone is looking to recycle an Apple ][ I'll take it

  • Rainbow Blazer
    Rainbow Blazer 20 days ago +1

    I like electronic i like to take things apart I often dumpster dive for old electronics
    Mostly computers
    I feel really bad for the electronics that end up in landfills
    We can fix them
    We need to refurbish more

  • Anna Jany
    Anna Jany 21 day ago +2

    I think we should just dump the product at the brands location. I am pretty sure if enough do that companies like Apple might finally hold themselves accountable.

  • Genxrush
    Genxrush 21 day ago

    And I should care? They took it let them deal with it.

    • David Goeken
      David Goeken 19 days ago

      @Genx Rush sorry you feel that way! You really don't understand or care! That is what wrong with America. I hope you are not a Trump fan, if so that explains it. You can look forward to karma cause it will take care of you. Good day!

    • Genx Rush
      Genx Rush 19 days ago

      @David Goeken I still don't care. They are talking about electronic waste that is going into their backyards. By the time any of that gets to me it is so diluted it does not even matter anymore.

    • David Goeken
      David Goeken 20 days ago

      3rd world countries with poverty hurt the environment by methods that you would not want in your own backyard. But eventually toxic chemicals in the air and oceans will reach everyone, so you should care.

  • Andrew Walz
    Andrew Walz 22 days ago

    I worked for an electronics recycling company over the summer and we got devices with the trackers implanted in them. Our manager would warn us daily to look out for them. We would get in trouble if they were trashed instead of recycled

  • NC_29 North
    NC_29 North 22 days ago

    Where all the HP printers end up

  • Gallo Shank
    Gallo Shank 24 days ago

    All that gold and silver id be rich

  • Farhan Haque
    Farhan Haque 24 days ago

    For those who change gadgets every month, I am still using Win xp.

    • Thewaltham
      Thewaltham 20 days ago +1

      Honestly that's not a good idea today, winXP is full of security holes. Might want to put either 10 on there if your system will run it or a Linux distro.

  • Aly pixar
    Aly pixar 25 days ago

    Great video

  • Lustfulvengance
    Lustfulvengance 25 days ago

    So this makes me wonder, can we just burn all this old e-waste and use some sort of exhaust filtering system??

  • MsBizzyGurl
    MsBizzyGurl 26 days ago +2

    Why aren't manufacturers required to implement recycling as part of their product design? If it's unsustainable or harmful, why is it produced at all?

    • 92Frederik
      92Frederik 19 days ago

      Recycling is not part of product design nor can it ever be. That suggestion doesn't even make sense. Forcing manufacturers to recycle their products is also not easy, because usually you have a long value chain with many companies producing individual parts. Is only the producer of the final product liable? Or every company for those parts they produce? That could also easily be circumvented by producing abroad and then importing them through a trading subsidiary. The company is then not the manufacturer anymore and would not be liable.
      And if you want to stop production of everything harmful or unsustainable, you should maybe consider joining the Amish, seems like it's right down your alley

  • Samuel Shin
    Samuel Shin 26 days ago

    "Betrayed by that ally" meaning by showing that you sued your only "ally" no recycle company will work with you. Why work with you if you will get sued by them?

  • mack cummy
    mack cummy 26 days ago

    In my province here in Canada there is arecycing fee on new electronics.

  • mohammed ali
    mohammed ali 26 days ago

    6.5m+2.5m=8m RIP math

  • red flag
    red flag 27 days ago

    America drops it in Africa

  • Domestic Ape
    Domestic Ape 27 days ago +4

    The US still haven't RATIFIED The Convention Against Child Slavery..

  • Lawrence L
    Lawrence L 27 days ago

    Powerful trackers. Where can I get one of these trackers ?

  • Aus Bare
    Aus Bare 27 days ago

    Make American Great Again. this is the way.

  • Ron maize
    Ron maize 27 days ago +2

    Just retired my note 3, its just a music player now.

  • Andrej F.
    Andrej F. 27 days ago

    What am I supposed to do with my old Motorola Razr cellphone? Can I just send it back to Motorola?

  • Corduroy
    Corduroy 27 days ago

    I found it strange the way they made it seem like foreign countries are somehow forced to accept E-waste from America. Businesses in developing nations are buying it because they intend to somehow turn it into a profit, that's how markets work. No evil here.

  • K B
    K B 28 days ago

    Well the ones who should be going to jails are the companies in the developing countries who have the poor working conditions not the recyclers

  • SeaJay Oceans
    SeaJay Oceans 28 days ago

    Make electronics out of FOOD. You will have to keep your cell phone in the refrigerator, but when you want an upgrade, just eat the old phone for breakfast.

  • Big Boss
    Big Boss 28 days ago

    *Out of Sight Out of Mind*

  • staninjapan07
    staninjapan07 29 days ago

    Here in Japan there is a fee built into the price of each monitor sold, and that fee is for the eventual/expected end-of-life recycling. However, that also means that it is difficult to get 2nd hand shops and recyclers to take old monitors as they have to pay the fee if proof of payment (original purchaser) cannot be found. At least I think that is how it works. I may be mistaken.

  • Jory Harris
    Jory Harris 29 days ago

    Am I the only one that thinks 2 1/2 years in prison was harsh?

  • ItchyKneeSon
    ItchyKneeSon 29 days ago

    And, for some reason, it still makes me angrier when I see someone throw their cigarette out the window.

  • Chiang Edison
    Chiang Edison Month ago

    Can you take a temporary job at 8:10?