Child Labour: An unspoken truth of the electronic waste industry - Blog

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Tuesday 17th September 2019

Since starting this campaign, we have discussed electronic wastes’ impact on people’s health and its consequences on the environment. However, there is perhaps no greater injustice than impoverished children earning pennies as scavengers of scrap metals from heaps of electronic waste.

Child labour is somewhat of an unspoken truth. As part of the ‘informal’ recycling industry, children as young as five years old are working full time in the presence of toxic metals and dangerous chemicals without any precautions taken for their health and safety.

Although it is very difficult to determine to what extent child labour is being employed at these ‘informal’ sites, many studies have shown that children make up a significant part of this industry.

According to a report by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) about 35,000 to 45,000 children between the ages of 10 and 14 are involved as 'scavengers' or 'waste-pickers' and dismantlers in the informal recycling sector in Delhi, India.

Following this, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), a United Nations agency, reported that in Ghana children between 11 and 18, and at times even kids as young as five, were found to be involved in manual sorting, burning and manual dismantling of e-waste. The report also shows that in China an estimated 80% of the children suffer from respiratory diseases and high concentrations of lead in their blood.

These figures are shocking. However, what we don’t realise is that we are just as responsible of putting these children in danger as those directly doing it.

But it’s not too late! By coming together and asking the tough questions regarding where our electronics are actually ending up, we can look forward to ending this injustice.

It only takes one great decision to keep a child safe. Recycle responsibly.

If you want to learn more about the truth about electronic waste, continue to follow our story @PaperRound as we continue to #BeClearOnData.

Lorella Fava

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