E-waste: Afterlife 电子垃圾的多彩来生
This is a Time Online story about an earlier e-waste multimedia piece we produced: “Your Laptop’s Dirty Little Secret” by Bryan Walsh for Time:
Coal, steel, oil — we think of these old-economy industries, and we picture pollution. Smoggy skies, fouled rivers, toxic waste. As we make the transition to a new economy, we imagine that industrial pollution will become a thing of the past. Mobile phones, laptops, MP3 players — they conjure images of spotless semiconductor factories and the eternal summer of Silicon Valley where the digital economy was born.

But the tech industry has a dirty little secret: it has toxic waste of its own. Phones and computers contain dangerous metals like lead, cadmium and mercury, which can contaminate the air and water when those products are dumped. It’s called electronic waste, or e-waste, and the world produces a lot of it: 20 to 50 million tons a year, according to the UN — enough to load a train that would stretch around the world. The U.S. is by far the world’s top producer of e-waste, but much of it ends up elsewhere — specifically, in developing nations like China, India and Nigeria, to which rich countries have been shipping garbage for years.

One Response to “E-waste: Afterlife 电子垃圾的多彩来生”

  1. Johan Says:


    My name is JOhan Wallinder and I’m a swedish student from KTH, Stockholm. Right now I’m conducting an exam about e-waste in China. Since I discovered Michael Zhao’s has attentioned this e-waste very closely I was wondering if you’re able to help me with a few questions connected to this e-waste in China? It would be very helpful! =)

    Best regards / 祝你一切好

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