February 2014

Bolivia Joins Recycling Revolution

You are done with your computer and planning to toss it out. You feel your phone has become outdated and are already seeking out a new and improved model. Your television has reached the end of its lifespan in your living room. So what do you do?

By: Tamar Honing
Projects Abroad Volunteer
New York – The United States

Photo: Jose Luis Cabrera

Each day our world disposes of 130,000 tons of electronic waste. To envision that quantity, imagine nearly 2.5 times the weight of the Titanic when fully loaded. The issue of electronic waste is a growing concern, and Latin America has been targeted as the next growth area globally for e-waste recycling. Bolivia recently made important steps by ushering in international investment in a new electronic waste recycling business. In this age of rapidly advancing technology, our time is often consumed by computers, cell phones, televisions, and other electronic devices. All of this consumption inevitably leads to a great deal of waste, so what happens when we wish to dispose one of our gadgets? On average, only about ten percent of electronic waste is recycled, while the rest largely ends up in landfills, where poisonous heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, and mercury poison our planet and harm our health.

But just because you’re done with a piece of technology does not mean its usability has been extinguished.

The combination of the rapid technological advancements of the 21st century, limited space, and the effects of decay in landfills produces quite the recipe for disaster. This is why electronic waste recycling, also known as green or urban mining, is so vital. What exactly is green or urban mining and what does it entail? According to California-based electronic recycling firm Green Technology Solutions Inc. (GTSO), it is “a sustainable approach to the efficient use of waste to recover minerals without further damaging the earth.” The process involves breaking down discarded devices into useable pieces. Rather than discarding materials such as lithium, tungsten, gold, and silver that are found in cell phones, televisions, radios, laptops, and many other technologies into landfills, e-waste recycling ensures that these valuable elements will be kept in circulation for use in future breakthroughs.

E-waste recycling is important for many reasons. From an environmental standpoint, the poisonous chemicals in e-waste disposed of in landfills can damage human habitation, animal life, and water resources. For example, when a lithium battery is added to a landfill, toxic poisons are released into the soil that make their way into water supplies and make growth nearly impossible. Keeping elements such as lithium out of landfills limit the negative effects of technological advancements and create cleaner air and water.

The combination of the rapid technological advancements of the 21st century, limited space, and the effects of decay in landfills produces quite the recipe for disaster.
Photo: Simone Batelaan

Economically too, e-waste recycling is a worthwhile try, as e-waste is a major source of materials needed by manufacturing sectors worldwide and a less expensive alternative to newly smelted metals or newly extracted minerals. In many developing countries, the recycling of technological detritus – once a meager occupation for impoverished children and adults – has the potential to become a successful business. For example Chile has organized urban freelance e-waste collectors into a practical business working with international buyers of reprocessed metals. Now, Bolivia is set to join in on the e-waste ventures as well. In August 2013, GTSO announced plans to work with its Chilean recycling partner, ‘Chilerecicla‘, to expand its technology recycling business into Bolivia. The joint venture has identified Bolivia as an ideal territory for growth. Chilerecicla has signed an initial agreement with a Bolivian electronics recycler to make certain that there is a ready market for electronic scrap. Further negotiations are underway in Ecuador, Argentina, and elsewhere. Chilerecicla, which maintains critical relationships with smelting companies throughout the world with the right to sell recovered metals and minerals, believes that the joint venture can increase its profitability significantly by obtaining favorable purchase prices from these suppliers and selling the recycled materials directly to overseas smelters.

“Our partner has already signed an agreement with one of Bolivia’s largest e-waste operators and the initial purchases of raw e-waste materials are expected to begin this week,” said Paul Watson, CEO of GTSO. “This is a big step forward in our ambitious plans to apply this successful business model in growing markets, with the U.S. being our number one target.”

Hopefully, Bolivia’s venture into the e-waste recycling sector will produce positive results for the environment and the economy. In this era of ceaseless technological progress, new innovations present new opportunities to simultaneously protect the wellbeing of our planet and improve the lives of humans around the globe. Work must be done not only to eliminate the existing problem from the world’s landfills, but also to stop damage before it occurs by avoiding the placement of technologies into landfills in the first place. In this way, we can create a cleaner, greener world to pass on to generations to come.

Beautiful Ladies’ Contests
It is a well known fact that beauty is commonly associated with the body, though the conceptions of corporal beauty are contextual and historically concrete. For example, at the beginning of the 21st century in Cochabamba, beauty was different to what it was perceived at the beginning of the 20th century. It should remain clear that those perceptions did not appear out of thin air but rather from the same conceptions (moral, religious, sanitary, etc.) that a society has of the body.
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