New Energy and Environment Digest 新能源与环保参考

China Diverting Toxic Waste to North Korea, Emerging Information Suggests

Posted in Electronic Waste, Recycling, Waste Management by ebalkan on December 14, 2009

China has taken considerable steps in recent years to address electronic waste management practices unsafe for the individuals involved and harmful to local land and water supplies, as NEEDigest has previously reported.

However, China’s limited electronic waste recycling facilities and swelling consumption patterns has rendered domestic containment of toxic trash a serious problem.

Like China, the US and Europe face this predicament, and for years have exported trash to developing countries in Asia and Africa at a lower cost and with fewer environmental safeguards. It is therefore somewhat unsurprising, but no less disheartening, to find out that China, too, is joining the ranks of countries opting to manage waste by having less developed countries manage it for them – often at considerable health and environmental risks.

The newest recipient country is not in Africa or Southeast Asia, as one might expect.

Rather, it appears that waste is being diverted to North Korea, China’s northeastern neighbor, whose western coast lies directly across from China’s prosperous coastal areas and many port towns. This revelation contradicts certain assumptions that North Korea, its economic development stunted due to a centrally planned economy and isolation from the outside world, was comparatively free from the industrial pollution that beleaguers many of its East and South Asian counterparts.

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Outsourcing Toxic Dumping, in the Name of the Environment?

evan071Does the Obama administration have the will to face the prospect that a low cost approach might be inimical to a low carbon strategy, and ensure careful planning and responsible oversight? Or will US officials, keen on building a strong bilateral partnership, overlook the consequences of a business-as-usual scenario in China, permitting environmental degradation as the means to ambitious political ends?

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Stepping Up Efforts to Control E-Waste: China Passes Electronic Disposal Law

Legislation on the management of electronic waste, signed into effect this week by China’s cabinet, the State Council, is a key example of China’s continued commitment to making progress on environmental protection.

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