South Korea launches initiative to recycle electronic waste

South Korea launches initiative to recycle electronic waste

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The city of Seoul dumps about 10 tons of electronic waste every year, and about a fifth of it reaches this recycling center. At the recycling center, the devices are separated so that valuable metals like gold and copper can be mined - a $ 3.8 billion industry, according to the government.

"It's not just about making a profit," says recycling center CEO Ji Un-geun, "it's about protecting the environment."

The main problem with electronic waste is toxic materials such as lead and mercury, which when released into landfills pose a serious health risk.

90 percent of the electronic waste that arrives at this center is recycled.

Since 2009, the Seoul City Government has partnered with the SR Recycling Center to collect electronic waste from the public and private sectors. For the government, recycling is also a security issue in the digital age. "If devices like phones are not recycled, then they could end up illegally in other countries like China or Southeast Asia, and personal data can be stolen," said a government spokesman.

Some sources estimate that only 21 percent of the country's e-waste is properly recycled. According to Lee Joo-hong of the Green Consumer Network, the average South Korean consumer buys a new mobile phone every year and a half.

"People switch their phones so quickly in part because companies offer huge subsidies to buy new products," Lee said. "And Korean consumers don't want to feel left out for not having the latest model."

Environmental organizations are demanding that more South Korean cities start their own recycling programs to keep up with growing loads of e-waste.


Video: South Korea mines lithium from electronic waste (May 2022).