E-waste is not only a disposal problem in most countries nowadays, but also has formed an issue in global trading. Many economic theories talk about e-waste dumping which consist of obsolete and harmful technologies which the developed countries use in exporting technology items to developing countries.
Trade theorists say that many brokers export electronic wastes to countries such as China and Africa where the harmful components such as bad cathode ray tubes in televisions and computers which are expensive to remove and is difficult, are included in such appliances. Hence, developing countries thus become dumping ground of e-waste. Those who are proponents of international trade stress on fair trade programs. Only with fair trade practices there can be equitable distribution of eco friendly technology, which will lead to sustainable jobs in all countries, reusable rates will go up and lead to reduction of e-waste.
Those who defend trade in used electronic goods say that developing countries have found ways to repair and reuse electronic appliances such as computers and televisions. Again, mining of metals such as copper, gold, silver and other materials is considered to be more environmentally damaging than recycling electronic goods. The art of repairing and reusing old appliances may be lost art in developed countries, but in countries like Taiwan, China, South Korea they have found ways in finding value in used goods such as used ink cartridges, CRTs, cameras and so forth.
Since developing countries have lower labor standards, environmental rules and the recovery value of recovered raw materials is higher, more of e-waste dumping occurs in developing countries. Electronic wastes are often transferred to countries like India, Kenya, Malaysia, China and others in the form of surplus laptops and other electronic appliances.
The Basel Convention has not been ratified by the United States of America and hence there is no proof that the US abides by any law which prevents export of toxic wastes. There are statistical estimates which say that eighty percent of the electronic waste which needs to be recycled are not recycled but put inside containers and shipped to developing countries as surplus electronic appliances.
Again, in recycling areas in developing countries many men, women and even children are employed in reuse, recycling and refurbishing of old and discarded electrical and electronic equipments. Many materials are reclaimed from such equipments but the primitive technologies which are used to extract such materials leads to high toxic materials being released in the environment as well as prove hazardous to the health of such workers.
Thus, global trade plays an important role in increasing e-wastes in developing countries.