Study estimates half of Mexico’s electronic scrap improperly handled

Study estimates half of Mexico’s electronic scrap improperly handled

National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change (INECC) says only 10 percent of Mexico’s e-scrap is handled safely.

July 7, 2017
Recycling Today Staff

A study undertaken by the Mexico-based the National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change (INECC) estimates that only 10 percent of obsolete electronics discarded in that nation are handled and recycled properly. The same study estimates that up to 50 percent of electronic scrap is sent to landfills, with much of that collected by scavengers.


The study is referred to in an online article by the Mexico-based Dossier Political periodical, which also portrays the lives of three teenage electronic scrap collectors.


The article’s author writes that “about 500,000 tons” of obsolete electronics each year are collected by an informal sector that “destroys them, releasing toxics, without there being authority that prevents it.”


The INCECC study referred to estimates that about 10 percent of the electronic scrap generated in Mexico each year, around 100,000 tons, “is recycled in a formal way [by] companies regulated by environmental secretariats.”


The same study concluded that 40 percent of obsolete computers, phones and appliances are stored in homes and warehouses or donated as secondhand. The remaining 50 percent about 500,000 tons, “comes to sanitary landfills or open dumps,” where it often is collected by scavengers who dismantle and process in unsafe and environmentally unsound ways’


The INECC’s Dr. Arturo Gavilán is quoted by Dossier Political as saying, "The risk is triggered when it is recycled in sloppy conditions, when the devices are destroyed by hammering and the plastic or coils are burned to remove copper, or when the cathode ray tube of televisions is broken to recover metal or glass, and lead is released.”