It's approaching ten days since I contacted MIT Senseable City Lab.
A joint project between the Basel Action Network (BAN) and the MIT Senseable City Lab has led to the discovery of previously unknown international electronic waste routes departing from the United States.Printer, and LCD and CRT monitors were embedded with GPS trackers capable of remotely reporting their location from overseas locations. These trackers were then delivered to recyclers and charities around the country. 65 of the first 200 trackers deilvered as part of the Monitour/e-Trash Transparency Project went offshore, mostly to Asia.
On-the-ground investigations in Asia by BAN produced a clearer picture of these trade routes. Results of this study can be found here on this site in graphic form and will also be released in a series of reports by BAN. These can be found at: www.ban.org/trash-transparency.
While legitimate e-waste recycling helps reduce landfill contamination and raw material extraction, the export of hazardous electronic waste is most often illegal trade under the Basel Convention and moreover, the management of toxic electronic waste in the informal sector damages human health and the environment.
The Monitour/e-Trash Transparency Project demonstrates how relatively new technology can generate unique data needed by civil society, law enforcement and enterprises to better track what until now have been hidden flows. Since the time of our experiment, the UN Organization on Drugs and Crime has confirmed that the Mong Cai border is a primary corridor for e-waste flowing from the US and EU into China, part of an estimated US $3.75 billion market for illegal e-waste.
Learn more about e-waste tracking here: Video.