Monday, May 27, 2013

E-waste, recycling and "good intentions". What happens when you hurt the people you are supposedly trying to help?

When viewpoints based on prior information (faulty or not) have been rendered obsolete why are we slow to change those views?

Is it because we have established a reputation based on those assumptions and to question would be to question our purpose?  I think this is more common than we think.

This opinion piece from Bloomberg suggests this is what it going on in the Electronic Waste (so called "E-Waste") industry and the negative environmental impact of E-waste is way overstated. 

I am not smart enough to know if this big picture story is true. But I am aware enough to know as a byproduct of sweeping policies to address a problem more often than not results in negative un-intended consequences.  Usually they are predictable but are not taken into consideration in the implementation of the policy.
"...This misunderstanding has led to several efforts at erecting partial export bans on U.S. electronics to developing countries, which -- other studies demonstrate -- import them as cheap and sustainable alternatives to new equipment. As a result, perfectly usable electronics are diverted into a recycling stream, where they are turned into raw materials, rather than into markets where they can be reused for years..." (Bloomberg) 
A conflict between "Reuse, Recycle" in triad of "Reduce, Recycle, Reuse" seems to have emerged. 

Interest groups have taken the "Seen" negative consequences of E-waste imposed on the few and put it above the "Unseen" positive effects that it may confer on the many.

Additional information tends to get in the way of our firmly held beliefs, doesn't it??
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