Produced for Wild Angle Productions by Feronique Mauduy and directed by Isabelle Vayron de la Moureyre, this 2013 documentary should be mandatory in every public school to inform the rising generation about some of the hidden human and environmental costs entailed in making those gotta-have-em electronic gadgets round which our daily lives seem to spin in ever-tighter circiles.
Via Journeyman Pictures:
Tin Trouble: The Indonesian mining operations destroying the local environment
Published on Dec 16, 2013
Tin is an essential element in consumer electronics and Indonesia is now its biggest exporter. But its poverty stricken miners work in horrendous conditions and the human and environmental toll is proving costly.
“The most dangerous is when we are buried. I was traumatized”, says 25-year-old Yuri, who risks his life illegally diving for tin off the coast. In addition to a steadily rising death toll, local ecosystems are being ravaged by massive deforestation, water pollution, soil depletion and the collapse of fish stocks. “It will take centuries, thousands of years before everything can return to normal”, says biologist Eddy Nurtjahya. The Islands of Bangka and Belitung are experiencing a tin rush and with a laissez-faire government and rampant corruption, many are now seeking international pressure to help curb this illegal trade. “If the government doesn’t take immediate action Bangka and Belitung will get poorer and poorer.”
Tin is only one of the illegally mined minerals used in producing our electronic tools and toys. Our cell phones, laptops, and tablets — and much else — require coltan [the rare earths columbium and tantalum], and its scarcity and presence in African crisis zones make it number one on most lists of so-called conflict minerals.
At the other end of the life cycle of our electronic gadgets, our no-longer-fashionable and worn out gear goes to other [and sometimes the same] “developing”
From an important story by John Vidal for Saturday’s issue of The Observer:
Millions of mobile phones, laptops, tablets, toys, digital cameras and other electronic devices bought this Christmas are destined to create a flood of dangerous “e-waste” that is being dumped illegally in developing countries, the UN has warned.
The global volume of electronic waste is expected to grow by 33% in the next four years, when it will weigh the equivalent of eight of the great Egyptian pyramids, according to the UN’s Step initiative, which was set up to tackle the world’s growing e-waste crisis. Last year nearly 50m tonnes of e-waste was generated worldwide – or about 7kg for every person on the planet. These are electronic goods made up of hundreds of different materials and containing toxic substances such as lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic and flame retardants. An old-style CRT computer screen can contain up to 3kg of lead, for example.
Once in landfill, these toxic materials seep out into the environment, contaminating land, water and the air. In addition, devices are often dismantled in primitive conditions. Those who work at these sites suffer frequent bouts of illness.