Consumers buy more gadgets every year, and throw away the old ones as millions of tons of e-waste. Glues, metals, plastics, and battery chemicals make e-waste particularly dangerous. Fumes from burning devices can get into the air, chemicals can seep into water, and people who live near landfills or who support themselves with certain recycling techniques suffer.

However, recyclers dealing with end-of-life electronics are solving their own problems. People who live near landfills in the Ivory Coast are sorting the e-waste and sending it on to recycling centers in France. Residents of e-waste recycling towns in China are banning the most dangerous methods of recycling, like acid cleaning and burning.

By Sharon Campbell