‘I spot brand new TVs, here to be shredded’: the truth about our electronic waste

  • June 3, 2023
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In a giant factory in California, thousands of screens, PCs and other old or unwanted gadgets are picked apart for materials. But what about the billions of other defunct (or not) devices?

In the lobby of Fresno airport is a forest of plastic trees. A bit on the nose, I think: this is central California, home of the grand Sequoia national park. But you can’t put a 3,000-year-old redwood in a planter (not to mention the ceiling clearance issue), so the tourist board has deemed it fit to build these towering, convincing copies. I pull out my phone and take a picture, amused and somewhat appalled. What will live longer, I wonder: the real trees or the fakes?

I haven’t come to Fresno to see the trees; I’ve come about the device on which I took the picture. In a warehouse in the south of the city, green trucks are unloading pallets of old electronics through the doors of Electronics Recyclers International (ERI), the largest electronics recycling company in the US.

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