Colonialism: Environmental Edition

Does put recycling in context…

Independent Online Edition > Environment

Regardless of how carefully you separate your waste, there is a good chance a disposal firm will dump it all in together with other kinds of plastic trash and ship it to the developing world to be dealt with by a family of migrant workers earning a pittance. They will deal with the salad-bar container, the pistachio ice-cream container and the superfluous bag for carrots in your shopping basket in a variety of different ways – it may be recycled, it may become landfill or it may simply be burnt. Whatever happens, it is generally not a priority for the waste disposal company. Britain dumps around two million tonnes of waste in China every year, everything from plastic mineral water bottles to shopping bags and other forms of superfluous packaging from some of the country’s biggest supermarkets.

Same for India as well. The article says that all of this “recycling” is illegal. But how do you hide 200,000 tonnes of plastic waste?

Read the whole article, it is tragic. Some highlights:

So too are the many and varied health complaints suffered by the local population, who risk multiple skin ailments and exposure to potent carcinogens as they touch the contaminated materials. Poisonous chemical effluents stream into their water supply, turning it black or lurid red, and studies by Greenpeace show that acid rain is the norm in this region. Children are prone to fevers and coughs. Their skin is often disfigured by the toxic plastic waste they have to process.

A report by the University of Shantou on the town of Guiyu, another Guangdong recycling hub, showed that more than 80 per cent of local children suffer from lead poisoning.

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