Environmental issues linked with the global shift of industry

The aim of this section is to be able to discuss the reasons for and consequences of the relocation of polluting industries [such as the e-waste recycling industry] and waste disposal [e-waste] to countries with weaker environmental controls and safety regulations.

Read this story from The Guardian about the issue of mobile phone waste and how manufacturers like Apple & Samsung are being encouraged to take a more sustainable approach.

Designed for the dump:

Historical examples illustrating how the globalisation of industry allows exploitation of different laws (e.g. environmental) include the 1984 Union Carbide accident in Bhopal, and the Trafigura incident 2006.



e-waste in Ghana – geography education.org

Agbogbloshie – Ghana’s e-waste town (Wikipedia)

Where does e-waste go?


Focus on China

Guiyu – China’s e-waste town (Wikipedia)

Unused e-waste discarded in China raises questions 2012 BBC


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Case study – Rare Earth metals, Baotou, Inner Mongolia

NASA images showing impact of mining and processing rare earth metals

Daily Mail – Rare earth metals used in wind turbine generators

The Guardian – Rare Earth metals from China – Environmental consequences

China cuts back on accepting international consumer waste

CNN – China refuses to recycle more of the world’s trash

Guardian – Moment of reckoning: US cities burn recyclables after China bans imports (Feb 2019)


Possible question

“Polluting industries are relocated away from developed nations, for purely financial reasons.” Discuss this statement [15 marks]

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