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Expat wanderer

Exporting Trash to Poorer Countries

From The New York Times, where you can read the entire article on exporting trash by clicking here

Published: September 26, 2009
ROTTERDAM, the Netherlands — When two inspectors swung open the doors of a battered red shipping container here, they confronted a graveyard of Europe’s electronic waste — old wires, electricity meters, circuit boards — mixed with remnants of cardboard and plastic.

“This is supposed to be going to China, but it isn’t going anywhere,” said Arno Vink, an inspector from the Dutch environment ministry who impounded the container because of Europe’s strict new laws that place restrictions on all types of waste exports, from dirty pipes to broken computers to household trash.

Exporting waste illegally to poor countries has become a vast and growing international business, as companies try to minimize the costs of new environmental laws, like those here, that tax waste or require that it be recycled or otherwise disposed of in an environmentally responsible way.

Rotterdam, the busiest port in Europe, has unwittingly become Europe’s main external garbage chute, a gateway for trash bound for places like China, Indonesia, India and Africa. There, electronic waste and construction debris containing toxic chemicals are often dismantled by children at great cost to their health. Other garbage that is supposed to be recycled according to European law may be simply burned or left to rot, polluting air and water and releasing the heat-trapping gases linked to global warming.

While much of the international waste trade is legal, sent to qualified overseas recyclers, a big chunk is not. For a price, underground traders make Europe’s waste disappear overseas.

After Europe first mandated recycling electronics like televisions and computers, two to three tons of electronic waste was turned in last year, far less than the seven tons anticipated. Much of the rest was probably exported illegally, according to the European Environment Agency.

Paper, plastic and metal trash exported from Europe rose tenfold from 1995 to 2007, the agency says, with 20 million containers of waste now shipped each year either legally or illegally. Half of that passes through this huge port, where trucks and ships exchange goods around the clock.

When we were blogging about pirates in Somalia, a Somali wrote in that part of the problem was that rich western countries were dumping toxic trash off the coast of Somalia and damaging the traditional fishing wealth of the country. Once trash is exported, there is no telling where it will be dumped, or what problems we are causing for our descendants down the road. I can’t help but think that we reap what we sow – and that we need to be paying attention to what we are dumping and where we are dumping it.

September 27, 2009 Posted by | Africa, Bureaucracy, Community, Financial Issues, Interconnected, Living Conditions, Political Issues, Social Issues, Values | 3 Comments

Expose Violators to Protect Consumers?

This article is from the Qatar Peninsula but it applies equally in Kuwait, in Seattle, in Pensacola . . . when a restaurant violates a health code, shouldn’t those results be made public? They are serving the public, they take our money, shouldn’t we know the state of hygiene and the safe-practices they observe – or don’t observe?

We still remember a time in Monterey, California when we walked into one of the most popular Chinese restaurants in town and found a table, without having to wait. It was astonishing. There were few customers that night. The next day in the paper we found it had been closed for health-code violations. We took comfort in knowing that when it re-opened, it had to pass a re-check, and it was probably the cleanest it had ever been, or would be for a time to come. 🙂

Restaurateurs want names of eateries violating rules to be made public
Web posted at: 9/27/2009 23:45:38
DOHA: The identity of the eateries punished for flouting health and safety rules should be disclosed by the authorities concerned, feel a number of restaurateurs in the city.

Not disclosing the name of an erring eating outlet is unadvisable since it can make all the eateries of a locality suspect in the eyes of patrons, say restaurateurs.

This happens especially as the authorities do mention the area an erring eatery is located in but fight shy of publishing its name in local newspapers.

Al Sharq Arabic newspaper in its weekly online survey took up this issue this time and an overwhelming 94 percent of the respondents said they were in favor of disclosing the identity of an erring eateries.

Only five percent said they did not back the idea, while one percent said they were undecided.

September 27, 2009 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Communication, Community, Doha, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Health Issues, Hygiene, Interconnected, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Qatar, Values | 6 Comments