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Video: China's wasteland of toxic consumer electronics revealed

Video: China's wasteland of toxic consumer electronics revealed
Thomas Ricker
Thomas Ricker|@trixxy|November 10, 2008 4:11 AM

Any self-respecting gadget hound knows that China is responsible for packing millions of shipping containers with the consumer electronics we crave. What you may not know is what we ship in return: our waste for recycling. Of growing concern is e-waste, resulting from the deluge of PCs, cellphones, televisions and crapgadgets we churn through at an accelerating clip each year. While domestic recycling programs are good-intentioned, often the most toxic of our e-waste is shipped illegally back to China and boiled down for its precious metals under some of the most crude conditions you can imagine. When faced with the choice of familial poverty or the slow accumulation of poison in their bloodstream (for $8 per day), it's not hard to imagine what many rural Chinese people will choose. So while we give Greenpeace's self-congratulatory promotions and oft-subjective "Guide to Greener Electronics" company ratings the occasional hard time, their attempts to raise e-waste awareness are commendable. Now go ahead, check the video from 60 Minutes' intrepid reporters after the break and let the guilt wash over you.

Update: As noted by reader Jason, a more thorough (and disturbing) exploration of these e-waste dumps can be found in a Current TV video shot last year in the same region.