According to a report by environmental group the Basel Action Network, much of the used computer equipment sent to developing nations for use in homes, schools, and business is not usable in its current condition and in many cases irreparable. The report charges that the old and faulty equipment is being donated or sold to these countries by United States recycling companies as a means of dodging the expense of recycling it properly.
The report, which focuses mainly on Nigeria in western Africa, claims that in many cases these attempts to "bridge the digital divide" in developing nations turn into little more than toxic waste pipelines. These actions force Nigeria and other countries such as China, India, and Pakistan to handle a disproportionate amount of the world's toxic waste. In a visit to the port city of Lagos in Nigeria, the group said that despite emerging technology industries the country lacked an infrastructure for electronics recycling. As a result, much of the imported equipment ended up in landfills, where toxins in the devices can seep into groundwater and produce other unhealthy conditions.
The average CRT computer monitor can contain as much as eight pounds of lead and uses plastics treated with toxic fire retardant chemicals. To prevent such toxins from ended up in landfills, the group is trying to push regulations which would require such recycling companies to properly test sold or donated equipment and label it before shipping.
News source: New York Times