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Valentino Bellini | BIT ROT Project

Lahore, Pakistan. An electronic and electrical waste collection area on the outskirts of Lahore. In this place small business’ owners, look for wastes that they can use for recycling and waste disposal purposes or that contain precious metals.

Bit rot is a colloquial term used in the computerized information systems environment to indicate the gradually decaying of data stored on storage medias or software over the duration of time.

In this case, the concept is transposed from a virtual reality, made of bit and software, to a material one, made of real people, things and places.
This reality is the research subject of the BITROT Project.

Electrical and electronic waste (e-waste) is growing faster than any other type of waste. With an annual volume that goes between 40 and 50 million metric tons, according to the UNEP (United Nation Environment Program), the growing amount of e-waste could grow exponentially, as much as 500 times over the coming decade, especially in countries like India, China and some African regions where the technology industry is growing fast.
It is hazardous waste, containing dozens of substances dangerous to human health and the environment; it is hard to be sustainably disposed of and it needs a costly processing technique to make it recyclable. This is the reason why about 80% of the e-waste produced in developed countries (North America and Europe on the top of the list) is not disposed of in situ, but shipped, most of the time illegally, to developing countries on cargo ships, where it is illegally disposed of.

This research is inspired by this important, practical problem, represented by the e-waste and focuses on the extreme consumerism of the society we live in.
A society that keeps hostage modern slaves, forced to live and work in detrimental conditions and that at same time, keeps itself as a hostage, always looking for technological and innovative products to satisfy its own need of being fast and competitive. A society where the consumer does not acknowledge boredom and his culture avoids it. Where there is not happiness and the moments of happiness are when we satisfy our impelling needs, careless of acknowledging that our choices have an impact on the life of those that have no choice.

To this moment, the project documented the reality of three States among those most affected by this kind of illegal exportation: Ghana, Pakistan, and India. To complete my documentation, i will need to visit other countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and US. I would like to document the alternatives implemented by the world leader firms in this field. I would like to document the great consummerism places where the problem of “generated need” born. I would like to document the work of national and international control organizations that try to contain the problem of illegal export and dismantling.
If you believe this is an important project and you want to help develop it, you can actively participate by making a donation through the website bitrotproject.tumblr.com/support

Hall Road, Lahore, Pakistan. [february 2013] Hall Road is the largest electronic market in the Punjab region and one of the largest in Pakistan. Here you can find any kind of electronic device. Most of the materials you can find here have been illegally imported from China or western countries. You can buy devices that are new or used and working. There are parts coming from the disposal of devices from United States, Europe or China through illegal shipments, and parts that don’t work anymore and that are sold wholesale to extract metals like gold.

Old Seelampur, New Delhi, India. [march 2013] A warehouse used to dismantle electronic devices. Where they separate the components and extract the parts to sell.

Hall Road, Lahore, Pakistan. [february 2013] About 20% of the electronic devices exported in Pakistan from China or western countries are fully functional, or just need some repairing to work again. It is important to keep in mind that the illegal import of electronic devices has increased the general population’s access to technologic objects, like laptops and televisions, and to new forms of culture, even for the poorest.

Chennai, India. [march 2013] Two workers of SIMS Recycling Solutions, the global leader in the recovery of electronic and electric wastes for reuse and recycling. It has facilities in the five continents. SIMS signs contracts with big companies that recycle obsolete devices on their premises. SIMS Recycling Solutions provides 1700 collection points of end of life electronics throughout India. However, managing to take away large amounts of waste from the illegal market is a hard task, especially in places like India, where people live selling wastes, the same wastes that in other countries would be disposed of for free. SIMS is trying to raise awareness in the population about the risks of environmental pollution and for the human health and is offering services to the local community.

Agbobloshie, Accra, Ghana. [april 2012] A young man is transporting electric materials ready to be burnt. The materials treated in the Agbobloshie landfill contain substances that are highly toxic for the environment and for human health. Cadmium, lead, phthalates, antimony, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), chlorobenzenes, Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), triphenyl phosphate (TPP), Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs).

Agbobloshie, Accra, Ghana. [april 2012] Young boys selecting electric and electronic wastes in front of the Agbobloshie landfill. The flow of trucks unloading waste coming from other parts of the city or from Tema Harbor, is unstoppable. Tema Harbor is the main commercial seaport in Ghana receiving all the shipments coming from United States and Europe.

Agbobloshie, Accra, Ghana. [april 2012] One of the young boys working in Agbobloshie made the landfill his home; he has built a shelter made of different types of scraps and wastes. Most part of the people who work in Agbobloshie is from the North of Ghana, in the rural regions. To work in Agbobloshie they have to leave their families and their homes.

Old Seelampur, New Delhi, India. [march 2013] The average pay of an electric waste disposal worker in the suburbs of Old Seelampur in New Delhi is about 2/3 thousand Indian rupee per month, which is about 35/55 dollars. It pays for nine to ten hours of work per day, with insufficient security conditions, in close and prolonged contact with toxic substances and without any kind of protection for human health or the environment.

Walton Road, Lahore, Pakistan. [february 2013] A boy on the roof of his house is preparing a chemical tank where, through a very complex procedure, he will extract gold from printed circuits that were parts of broken computers. His father had to pay a great amount of money so that his son could learn this technique from another person, but this investment is allowing them to increase the profits of their small business that is specialized in the recycling of electronic waste.

Old Seelampur, New Delhi, India. [march 2013] Old Seelampur is one the poorest suburb areas but the biggest e-waste market in Delhi. There are dozens of retail and wholesale stores. Most of them buy materials from abroad (USA, Europe, Dubai). They buy it for about $10 cents to $15 cents per kilo and they sell it for double the price to other stores. There, they separate the components of the electric and electronic devices in order to sell them again.

Odaw River, Accra, Ghana. [april 2012] The Odaw River and the Korle Lagoon are full of every kind of wastes coming from the Agbobloshie landfill and from the nearby slums where they use the river like a latrine. A couple of hundreds meters downhill the river and lagoon flow into the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean. The government of Ghana is trying to restore the natural conditions of the lagoon thanks to the Korle Lagoon Ecological Restoration project (KLERP).

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One Response to Valentino Bellini | BIT ROT Project

  1. andrea buzzichelli 9 August 2013 at 5:28 pm #

    nice work!

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