Recent stories about electronics manufacturer Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd (publicly traded as Foxconn Technology Group) brought the world's attention to the poor working conditions experienced by high-tech workers as they produce parts for many of the world's electronics. But for the great majority of US electronics, their end-of-life circumstances are often more grim than their beginnings. It's clear that the world's appetite for electronics is growing. While sales for desktop computers have declined, cellphones and tablets continue to sell in greater quantities. IT research company Gartner Inc estimates that 1.8 billion mobile phone units, 303 million personal computers, and 184 million tablets were sold worldwide in 2013. Gartner predicts that mobile phone sales will rise to 1.9 billion and tablet sales to 263 million in 2014. In a given pile of e-waste, one is likely to find both rare earth metals, such as tantalum or neodymium, and precious metals, including gold and silver.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.