MAC: Mines and Communities


Published by MAC on 2006-09-21


21st September 2006

The dumping by a Dutch-chartered vessel last month of 400 tonnes of oil and chemical wastes on Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) sparked massive anger in the African state and around the world - and justifiably so. By contrast, the docking of another European ship, laden with asbestos, at around the same time in the Indian state of Gujarat aroused little concern.

In fact, the largest bulk of potentialy deadly discarded materials are so-called "e-wastes" containing cadmium, lead, mercury and other toxic metals deriving from mobile phones, computers and printers.

Each year, up to 50 million tonnes of these items are abandoned by citizens in the North and 50% or more of them are shipped to the South (mainly to China, India and Africa). According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) less than ten per cent of them are recycled.

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