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每日英語跟讀 Ep.795: 電子垃圾工廠到處開 毒害泰國 The Price of Recycling Old Laptops: Toxic Fumes in Thailand’s Lungs

· 每日跟讀單元 Daily English

每日英語跟讀 Ep.795: The Price of Recycling Old Laptops: Toxic Fumes in Thailand’s Lungs

婦女們蹲伏在一間燈光昏暗的工廠的地上,整理被現代世界棄置的一些內容物:電池、電路板和成綑的電線。

Crouched on the ground in a dimly lit factory, women picked through the discarded innards of the modern world: batteries, circuit boards and bundles of wires.

她們或者用鐵鎚,或者徒手,拆解這些被稱作有害電子廢棄物或電子垃圾的廢品,再由男性工人鏟進一台鏗鏘作響的機器,以回收有用的金屬。有些男工用碎布包住臉來隔擋煙塵。

They broke down the scrap — known as hazardous electronic-waste, or e-waste — with hammers and raw hands. Men, some with faces wrapped in rags to repel the fumes, shoveled the refuse into a clanking machine that salvages usable metal.

當他們賣力工作之時,煙霧飄散至鄰近的村莊和工廠,居民對煙霧中有什麼物質一無所知—塑膠?金屬?誰知道!他們只知道聞起來很臭,讓人惡心。

As they toiled, smoke spewed over nearby villages and farms. Residents have no idea what is in the smoke — plastic, metal, who knows? All they know is that it stinks and they feel sick.

這間名為「新天空金屬」的工廠,是東南亞正蓬勃發展的電子垃圾業的一部分,是在中國大陸決定停止接收毒害其土地人民的全球電子垃圾後,應運而生。泰國特別成為這項產業的中心,過程中社運人士大力阻擋,政府則在公共安全與可觀的收益之間謀取平衡。

The factory, New Sky Metal, is part of a thriving e-waste industry across Southeast Asia, born of China’s decision to stop accepting the world’s electronic refuse, which was poisoning its land and people. Thailand in particular has become a center of the industry even as activists push back and its government wrestles to balance competing interests of public safety with the profits to be made from the lucrative trade.

去年泰國禁止外國電子垃圾進口,然而環境監控人員和產業專家說,新工廠仍然在國內各地開設,處理成噸的電子垃圾。

Last year, Thailand banned the import of foreign e-waste. Yet new factories are opening across the country, and tons of e-waste are being processed, environmental monitors and industry experts said.

「電子垃圾必須有去處。」以反對將垃圾傾倒至窮國為訴求的「巴塞爾行動網路」執行長吉姆.帕其特說,「中國就是把整個作業搬到東南亞。」

“E-waste has to go somewhere,” said Jim Puckett, executive director of the Basel Action Network, which campaigns against trash dumping in poor countries, “and the Chinese are simply moving their entire operations to Southeast Asia.”

他說:「賺錢的唯一方法,是用便宜、非法的勞力處理極為龐大的數量,而且大肆汙染環境。」

“The only way to make money is to get huge volume with cheap, illegal labor and pollute the hell out of the environment,” he added.

根據聯合國的統計,全球每年製造出5000萬噸電子垃圾,消費者習慣了丟掉前一年的機型,入手新款式。

回收這些小電器的觀念聽起來道德高尚:科技便利的無限循環。

Each year, 50 million tons of e-waste are produced globally, according to the United Nations, as consumers grow accustomed to throwing away last year’s model and acquiring the next new thing.The notion of recycling these gadgets sounds virtuous: an infinite loop of technological utility.

但是,從廢棄的手機、電腦和電視中採集微量的金銀銅之類貴金屬,其實是骯髒且危險的工作。

But it is dirty and dangerous work to extract the tiny quantities of precious metals — like gold, silver and copper — from castoff phones, computers and televisions.

曾經有許多年,中國大陸大量接收世界各地的電子廢棄物。然後在2018年,北京對外來電子垃圾關閉了大門。泰國和其他東南亞國家看到了機會,因為它們環境法律執行寬鬆,勞動力剝削容易,而且商界和政府間關係緊密。

For years, China took in much of the world’s electronic refuse. Then in 2018, Beijing closed its borders to foreign e-waste. Thailand and other countries in Southeast Asia — with their lax enforcement of environmental laws, easily exploited labor force and cozy nexus between business and government — saw an opportunity.

「每一片電路板和每一條電線都能讓你賺不少錢,特別是毋須考慮環境或勞工時。」環境監督組織「泰國生態警示復甦」領導人潘重.沙也譚說。

“Every circuit and every cable is very lucrative, especially if there is no concern for the environment or for workers,” said Penchom Saetang, head of Ecological Alert and Recovery Thailand, an environmental watchdog.

Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/349813/web/

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