60 Minutes e-waste | Problem, Health Risk, Why not?


Since its 1968 premiere, the famous and enduring American television news magazine program “60 Minutes” has been a mainstay of American television. A weekly one-hour television program called “60 Minutes” usually airs on Sunday nights. Several in-depth news articles and investigative pieces make up its framework.

The program is broken up into many pieces, each of which focuses on a distinct news story. These portions are usually given by one of the program’s correspondents and last between ten and twenty minutes. It is praised for its thorough investigative reporting, frequently revealing misconduct, corruption, and significant social and political concerns. Its outstanding journalism has won it several honors.

The program is praised for its thorough investigative reporting, frequently revealing misconduct, corruption, and significant social and political concerns. Its outstanding journalism has won it several honors. It usually features interviews with prominent people, including celebrities, international leaders, and subject matter specialists.

These conversations provide light on current events and pressing concerns. The show has a sizable and devoted fan base and has continuously been among the most viewed shows on American television. It is renowned for its in-depth reporting and capacity to take on significant, frequently contentious topics.

 In the US, it has significantly impacted politics and culture. It has influenced public opinion and policy decisions made by the government. The program’s popularity has prompted the development of other foreign adaptations and spin-offs like “60 Minutes II” and “60 Minutes Sports.” For its exceptional journalism and reporting, it has won countless Peabody Awards and Emmy Awards, among others.

E-Waste Terminology

Electronic trash is the term used to describe thrown-out or outdated electronic equipment and gadgets, including computers, laptops, tablets, cellphones, televisions, refrigerators, and other electrical appliances. These products include circuitry, electrical parts, and frequently dangerous substances like heavy metals, which, if improperly handled, can present severe threats to human health and the environment.

Growing concern over electronic waste’s effects on the environment

  • Toxic Materials: Toxic materials like lead, etc, can seep into the environment and contaminate soil and water supplies when they are disposed of inappropriately or are not recycled effectively.
  • Depletion of Resources: Precious and rare earth metals are essential for producing electrical gadgets. When electronics are disposed of excessively without being adequately recycled, resources are wasted, which increases the demand for energy in mining and manufacturing as well as resource scarcity.
  • Energy Consumption: The manufacturing and disposal of electronic equipment utilize a lot of energy, which increases greenhouse gas emissions and the effects of climate change.

Electronic waste problem

  • Electronic garbage is the solid waste stream rising the quickest in the world, expanding three times faster than the global population, according to World Health Organization research.
  • Of the expected 53.6 million tons of electronic trash created worldwide in 2019, only 17.4% were officially recorded as being collected and recycled. 
  • Recycling e-trash might have several adverse effects on people’s health. Pregnant women and children are especially at risk.
  • Millions of women and child laborers employed globally in the unregulated recycling industry are estimated by the ILO and WHO to be in danger of exposure to e-waste.

Health Risk

Millions of tons of electronic garbage are recycled annually under unsustainable conditions, held in homes and warehouses, disposed of in the trash, exported, or repurposed under subpar circumstances. Poor treatment practices can cause up to 1000 distinct chemical compounds, including lead and other dangerous neurotoxins, to be released into the environment from e-e-garbage. Children and pregnant women are more sensitive because of their developmental stages and specialized exposure routes.

60 Minutes Coverage

Specific segments of 60 minutes episode:

  • A very poisonous location in China that has been kept hidden from the public is the subject of an investigation by 60 Minutes. The lead contamination in this region is so harmful that it is impossible to breathe or drink the water, and even the blood of the children is poisoned.
  • The inquiry uncovers a recycling tale in which illicit electronic garbage from the US is transported to this hazardous region of China, undercutting environmentally conscious initiatives.
  • *The fastest-growing part of the global municipal waste stream is e-trash, with over 100 million cell phones and 130,000 computers disposed of daily in the United States alone.
  • Some American recyclers are breaking local and international regulations by sending their e-trash abroad, especially to China, where it is processed for precious metals.
  • The issue is exacerbated by the recycling industry’s explosive expansion, as impoverished workers in filthy living quarters break down electronic debris for pitiful wages.

Case Study

The Great E-Waste Hoax” (2016)

In this report, “60 Minutes” examined several American e-trash recycling organizations’ dishonest business methods. The article described how some recycling businesses sent electronic garbage abroad, frequently to nations with weak environmental laws, while feigning to recycle it ethically.

Key Results: The study revealed the e-trash recycling industry’s lack of accountability and transparency, with some recyclers making money by sending dangerous goods to underdeveloped countries, endangering public health and the environment. The analysis proved that the recycling of e-trash requires stricter laws and regulations.

Regulation and solutions

  • According to the segment, many businesses are shipping electronic garbage illegally to underdeveloped nations, where it is frequently discarded unlawfully. Stricter controls on e-trash exports would make it harder for companies to do this and would contribute to the safe disposal of e-trash.
  • Increasing funding for environmentally friendly e-trash handling techniques in poorer nations might aid in solving this issue.
  • Increased consumer knowledge would motivate consumers to dispose of their electronics appropriately and avoid items from businesses that do not follow ethical e-trash disposal procedures.

Consumer Responsibility

Reducing the adverse effects of e-trash on the environment and human health requires consumer responsibility for the appropriate disposal and recycling of electronic equipment. Through responsible recycling activities, recycling, and making educated decisions, consumers may play a proactive role in promoting a more ecologically conscious and sustainable method of handling electronic trash.

Ongoing Concern

Even with the advancements in tackling the e-waste issue, some worries and obstacles persist. The amount of e-trash created is still increasing, which is one of the main obstacles. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that 53.6 million metric tons of e-garbage were produced worldwide in 2019, and that figure is projected to increase to 74.7 million metric tons by 2030.

The unauthorized transfer of electronic garbage from industrialized to underdeveloped nations presents another difficulty. This is a significant issue with grave implications for the environment and human health, as the 60 Minutes piece made clear.

Furthermore, many underdeveloped nations need more means and infrastructure to dispose of their e-garbage responsibly. This implies that a sizable portion of e-garbage gets burnt or disposed of in landfills, which releases toxic chemicals into the environment.


The e-garbage issue is still covered by 60 Minutes in its continuous reporting. The show has featured segments on e-garbage-related subjects in the past, including illicit exports of electronic garbage, the health hazards associated with e-garbage exposure, and the possibility of new technology to address the e-garbage issue.

By addressing the e-garbage issue regularly, 60 Minutes is contributing to the public discourse and holding corporations and governments responsible for their deeds.

The e-garbage issue was covered by 60 Minutes, which is beneficial since it informs the public about this significant problem and pressures corporations and governments to take appropriate action.

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