According to this documentary many of our computers go to Africa when they die. More specifically they go to chop shops like the ones in Lagos, Nigeria. About 400,000 PC’s, monitors, keyboards, mice, and other components are delivered to Nigeria each month. Many of these components are full of toxic chemicals and hard metals.
The workers at these shops are melting down the plastic parts to extract copper, silver, lead, aluminum, gold, and other precious metals. This documentary (The Digital Dump) was produced by the Basil Action Network. BAN has worked in various parts of the world trying to bring attention to the hazardous effects of electronic waste.
Have you considered how you plan to bury your Android cell phone? Or your third generation iphone? Most of these devices are being replaced so rapidly (thanks to Moore’s law) that we don’t have systems in place for their retirement.
I am trying to find ways to alter how I relate to my aging technology.
For example there is a design principle called Cradle to Cradle design. Which is, “a holistic economic, industrial and social framework that seeks to create systems that are not just efficient but essentially waste free.”
Another idea is to donate my old electronics to folks that can’t afford the new stuff. Or donate my old technology to the local hacker community so they can make new stuff with the parts. Or I will just call the local E-Waste recycler and schedule a pickup.
Either way I am going to try to make sure that my electronics don’t end up melted down in Lagos and ditched in a swamp.