Globalization and Electronic Waste. Chris Brooks Computing, Python and Robots

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1 Globalization and Electronic Waste Chris Brooks Computing, Python and Robots

2 Globalization What is globalization?

3 What is globalization? Globalization World Bank: the growing integration of economies and societies around the world Carnegie Foundation: ``...a process of interaction and integration among the people, companies, and governments of different nations,... driven by international trade and investment and aided by information technology. Thomas Friedman: [T]he inexorable integration of markets, nation-states, and technologies to a degree never witnessed before-in a way that is enabling individuals, corporations and nation-states to reach around the world farther, faster, deeper and cheaper than ever before.... the spread of free-market capitalism to virtually every country in the world "

4 Components Globalization is a complex phenomenon that includes: Cultural issues Political Issues Economic Issues Human Rights Issues Technological Issues

5 Advantages What are some potential advantages of globalization?

6 Advantages What are some potential advantages of globalization? Economic growth in developing nations Increased access to education Improvements in human rights Improved cultural awareness More efficient economies others?

7 Problems What are some potential problems resulting from globalization?

8 Problems What might be some potential problems resulting from globalization? Increased inequality between First World and developing world Increased exploitation of poor countries, populations Lack of local autonomy Loss of cultural identity Loss of economic status in First World (outsourcing, lack of manufacturing jobs, etc) Environmental concerns others?

9 Technology and Globalization What are some particular issues in which information technology is intertwined with globalization (either for better or for worse)?

10 Technology and Globalization What are some particular issues in which information technology is intertwined with globalization (either for better or for worse)? e-waste Digital divide Communications Media Improved access to education, resources Outsourcing Improved development e.g. Better mapping of water resources, understanding of sustainable agriculture, etc.

11 Three Issues In this class, we ll briefly look at three issues: E-waste Digital Divide Outsourcing

12 Electronic Waste Computers and other electronics, such as cell phones, ipods, CD players, and televisions contain a wide variety of materials Gold, silver, copper Reusable components such as transistors and integrated circuits Toxic materials such as mercury, lead, cadmium, and fire-retardant insulation Cancer-causing PCBs

13 Electronic Waste The U.S. has fairly strict laws about how electronics can be recycled or disposed of. Much on a state-by-state basis Recycling centers typically extract reusable components, or even shred circuit boards and appliances

14 e-waste Much e-waste cannot be economically recycled in the First World After stripping, remaining components are shipped to Nigeria, India, and China Labor is cheap, environmental standards are lax. Stripped for salvageable components Remaining pieces cast aside

15 Chinese worker using acid to extract gold from circuit boards

16 Chinese worker about to smash a cathode ray tube to remove copper.

17 Boy hauling waste in Lagos

18 Women picking through computer wires. Good ones are kept, bad ones are burned, releasing carcinogens

19 Environmental Issues Lead or mercury may leach into the groundwater. Burning components may give off toxic fumes. Exposure to heavy metals can cause cancer, birth defects. Chemicals used in extraction of gold, silver are also harmful e.g. hydrochloric acid

20 How does this happen? There is a large worldwide industry for scrap equipment Not well-regulated or located within a single country. Your computer might go to a recycler, who takes what can be reused and then sells the rest. This buyer might collect all of this, take what he/she can salvage, and then sell of the rest as well. At some point, the equipment is shipped to an overseas recycler. At this point, everything of value is stripped and the remainder is left in a landfill, or just on the side of the road.

21 Globalization s Double-Edged Sword The ability to easily ship goods worldwide, coupled with inequalities in labor, makes this possible. This is a downside of globalization - we can ``externalize our environmental impact.'' (Diamond) On the other hand, globalization makes it possible to discover this, and to construct organizations that can change it. Information flows more easily

22 What s Being Done About This Basel Convention An international treaty governing the shipment of hazardous waste, particularly to the developing world California: Electronic Waste Recycling Act Point-of-sale tax to subsidize recycling

23 What can you do? Reduce Do you really need that new cellphone? Reuse Donate that laptop to charity Research Find recyclers who can guarantee that electronics are disposed of safely. Support manufacturers who participate in buyback programs

24 Resources SF Goodwill - SF Computer Recycling Center noewaste.com

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