California Recyclers Find Market for Toxic E-Trash Abroad

"In the soft morning light, the silver-gray mountain of electronic trash did not look especially hazardous. But it was.

Inside that massive rubble of technology, with its V-shaped canyons of printers and keyboards and its fin-like ridges of fax machines and coffee makers, was enough toxic material – including lead, cadmium and brominated flame retardants – to poison California watersheds for centuries and sow disease in humans.

"This is the problem," said Jim Taggart, president of ECS Refining in Santa Clara, where the e-waste was waiting to be safely recycled. "This is the material that most people are exporting. They'll get paid 5 to 10 cents a pound for shoving it in a container and shipping it overseas."

Tom Knudson reports for the Sacramento Bee November 28, 2010.

Source: Sacramento Bee, 11/29/2010