With her Electronic Village, Karine Giboulo opens our eyes to the full irony of the life cycle of electronics: produced in China, they are used by the West and returned to China in the form of toxic waste.
Each year, over 30 million computers and 100 million cell phones are thrown away in the U.S. alone. Electronic waste represents the fastest growing source of residual material in North America. Electronic products contain recyclable materials such as metal, aluminum and copper. They also contain toxic substances like cadmium, lead, mercury and polyvinyl chloride. A lot of our electronic waste ends up at the dumping ground, some of it in specialized sorting facilities. However, there are some places in the world where people recycle, in medieval conditions, the electronic waste of rich countries. The town of Guiyu in China is one of the most polluted on the planet. Circuit board plastic is burned here to extract the metal it contains—with disastrous consequences. The inhabitants poison themselves in order to earn around $8 a day.