In the year 2011, most of the developing and developed countries of the world expressed the concern related to the role of certain hazardous substances that are disrupting the balance of the environment and causing ill effects to an extent where it can kill people and environment. During the same year, the Environmental experts came out with the formula of People, Planet and Profit (Sullivan, 2018). Under it, they said that equal importance should be given to the health of the individuals, environment, and industries that are making money out of certain ventures. Countries like China refused to buy this concept because they thought that an extra concern related to the environment can hamper the prospects of their industries and leave them in a tight spot. In the current essay with the help of the example of the town of Guiyu in China, we are trying to explore a hypothesis.
The town of the Guiyu is an example of a criminal validation, oversight, and patronage of government to a green collar crime by giving it the status of a proto-industry. It can be considered as a crime promoted by the state where they are giving rise to a subculture of green crimes with an intention to make more profit in international markets.
The development of a proto industry with a passage of time
Imagine about an area of 52 square kilometers where they are dumping 100 truckloads of electronic dump every day and filling it up with toxins like Lead and arsenic that are hazardous to human as well as nature. If this fact does not ring an alarm then let's supply another fact in the equation, eighty percent kids in the same area are suffering from lead poising and this area has a high rate of miscarriages among the ladies. The Waste management industry circuit of the world identifies these 52 square kilometers of land as the graveyard of E-waste. Another piece of information can make it sensational for the natives of China and the rest of the world. In order to restrict electronic waste many European countries imposed a ban on the import and export of Electronic waste. With the help of this ban they were trying to discourage the manufacturing of such goods, however, instead of cutting down the manufacturing of the goods, these units started importing the e-waste under the classification of charitable goods (Pinguhi, 2017).
Why all of a sudden the companies across the world have started producing e-waste at such a large scale. The answer to this question lies in the keyword of obsolescence. The electric bulbs made by the company of Mr. Thomas Elva Edison, the inventor of the bulb, were durable; some of them have celebrated 50 birthdays and became an iconic heritage for the owners. However, economically speaking it is a loss for the company because the durability of the products kills their opportunity for the repeat business. In order to serve their interests, the bulb companies came up with the condition of adding obsolescence in the products. It means any given product will not last long. This obsolescence of the electronic goods can be attributed as a big reason behind the procurement of e-waste (Elisha, 2010: 200).
The numbers are so high that alone in Europe 6 million metric tons of e-waste was discarded in the year 1998 (Realff et al., 2004). As a responsible citizen of the world, the countries in Europe came with strong waste management and waste procurement policies. It was a genuine concern when they slapped a ban on the export and import of E-waste from the country. Computer technology is also running with the help of the concept of beta testing. Here they are releasing their technology in steps and making money at every juncture by keeping the markets active. The numbers are alarming during the period ranging from 1997 to 2004 United States, 315 million computers became obsolete. (Appelbaum, 2002). It happened because the hardware companies decided to come up with some products that were not durable. They were designed for the one time use.
We have technologies working by our side to help the problem raised by e-waste; however, it is an expensive affair. It is an addition to the cost of the main product. In most of the cases once a product is delivered, it is the responsibility of the customer to handle its disposal. As a result, the management of the E-waste becomes a subject of the state. If any particular state like China is having a different set of policies connected to it than it can become a heinous crime. There is another dimension attached to it, Most of the electronic goods look harmless from the surface, however, they carry highly dangerous levels of toxic substances such as cadmium, lead, and mercury (Puckett, 2002).
The disassembly of electronic goods is a lucrative industry, because of the expensive metals like the highest quality of the iron, copper, and silver etc. In order to bring out these metals, the e-waste recyclers dissolve the goods and separate the metals with the help of chemical processes. The toxic part of an electronic good remains untouched. In general they use landfills to bury down these toxic substances; however, we should never forget that every place has its own carrying capacity. E-Waste procurement has become an industry with some unwholesome and sinful practices. Developing countries like China and India are contributing to this problem with the help of two methods, first they are emerging as a big market for these goods and secondly certain places like Guiyu are emerging as the graveyard for the e-waste and finally turning out to become the graveyard of the eco-system and human health as well (Liu et al., 2006).
Part 1: Type of crime
It is not a plain and simple case of business it can be a green crime
Technology is traveling faster in comparison with the establishment of the crime definitions associated with the act. Prima facie we can have a look at certain laws that are in place and they can be treated as a framework to develop new legal definitions connected to the E-waste management. In the case of the Guiyu, we can clearly see the violation of the 1989 Basel convention on the control of Transboundary. The transportation of such goods from one place to the other on a national level and transnational level should follow certain norms of
Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal (Basel Convention). The consideration for human rights based on the economic strength of the countries is another parameter, the operations of waste management in Guiyu seems to violate some of the rulings of the
1995 amendment to Basel Convention, these rulings describes the obligation of the developed countries to don't just dump the E-waste in Lower economic developed countries, they should dump it while ensuring correct facilities for the disposal of the waste (Dodwell, 2017).
These major violations are more than sufficient to draw the attention of an expert in the field of green criminology. The deviances of this waste dumping can be studied under many sub-sections of different laws pertaining to the interaction of the business community and authorities with the common man. Dumping in Guiyu can be classified as a crime that attracts or generates a public outcry (Green and Ward, 2004). Turn the pages of the books of demography almost three decades ago Guiyu was a tranquil nature loving the rice-growing town, it has now become a hub for the proto industry of E-waste processing. During the initial phase nobody noticed about the harms that it can do to the environment and the health of the people, however, once they started increasing the quantum of the operations, health of the people and the environmental concerns took a back seat (Reuters, 2017). The condition of the public outcry emerged only after the initiatives of the organizations like Green Peace. Green Peace, in particular, conducted many studies and quantified the hazards and harms caused by the consistent flow of the E-waste. (Walters, 2007).
The affliction of Social Injury is an aftermath of the environmental destruction
Criminology as a stream corresponds to the social science as well. The concept of justice is in place because sometimes the weaker sections of the society do not have a voice of their own. In the case of Guiyu the act of E-waste dumping was an act that was harmful as a crime, however, legally it was not defined. (Green and Ward, 2004). At the beginning of this essay we raised a concern about the race between the technology and the definition prescribed by legal systems. The case of Guiyu clearly establishes the fact that here legal systems are traveling at an archaic pace and the race of the technology has already reached to the next level. The environment of any given area is a property of the son of soil (White, 2002). We have many cases where tribal populations of an area demanded their rights over the eco-system of any given territory. It is the same case with Guiyu now, dangerous levels of lead have been found within the soil, water, and air, it is an alarming situation for the natives of the place because E-waste dumping and processing is destroying their eco-systems and bringing them on the verge of a dangerous situation (Huo et al., 2007). When we use the same words in a plea submitted in any court then prima facie it seems like a case of social injury as well. The presence of social injury can be established here with the help of above-mentioned facts and arguments.
Part 2: The role of the state
Sometimes the policies of a state can make it a proto-state
Prior to the arrival of the concept of the Public, Planet, and Profit, it was difficult to fix the responsibility of the state in the process of the E-waste management; the case of Guiyu establishes some parameters connected to the role of the state in the prevention of the E-waste management. The environmental summit of 2011 allows us to compare the rules and regulations prescribed by various countries. The USA and European countries are also facing the same problem of E-waste management; however, their efforts in the form of rules and regulations are stricter in comparison with China, the host of Guiyu. In a world where most of the big corporate firms are busy in proclaiming the fact that they are responsible corporate citizens. If cities like Guiyu exist then it shows that it is a violation of many laws (Honhui, 2007).
As a responsible state China should come up with some legislation to stop this practice, a healthy environment for a living is a social good for them. It is a failure of the authorities if they fail in sustaining the eco-system of any given place like Guiyu.
It clearly indicates that the state is more concerned about the profits rather than the eco-system of the place or the health of the people. European countries and USA has set an ideal example where they came up with heavy taxation over the procurement of E-waste and electronic goods. They also came up with awareness campaigns with an intention to bring down per capita use of harmful yet necessary substances. China as a legislator practiced an oversight on the issue. The emergence of the townships like Guiyu is an outcome of it (S.C.Wong, 2007).
China failed in controlling the ambitious plans of the corporate sector. Waste management is a fruitless exercise for them; they always try to find by-lanes to avoid major expenses occurring in the process. Just like European countries, China should come up with some visible or explicit actions in the direction of the removal of the practices that make E-waste management a hazardous proposition for the locals and the country (Li, 2007).
It seems like a deliberate failure of the Chinese State in the process of the E-waste management
Chinese Government allowed the industry sector of E-waste management as a proto-industry. On a surface, it seems that they failed in controlling the amount of the E-waste from the USA. However, on second thoughts we can also say that China created a proto administration that facilitated cheap old technologies to handle the process of the recycling, most of these technologies were unable to handle the emission norms and other norms associated with the pollution control. Let's assume that we are living in a global world and somewhere someone has to take responsibility for the dirty job of the removal of E-waste (Higano, 2011). Even then the role of the Chinese government in the creation of the infrastructure and other supportive facilities clearly indicates that they were after the profits coming out of the ventures on the expense of the people and the planet. The implementations of the Basel Conventions can be termed as the bare minimum to handle this giant problem. Chinese government failed in complying with the recommendations of the Basel conventions as well (Sommer, 2015).
The United States
The concern for the environment is universal, in the absence of right definitions we cannot blame directly to the exporters of the E-Waste. However, they also have a role to play in the nexus. Remember the sufferers are confined to a small area of fifty-two square kilometers in the town of the Guiyu, if something wrong happens then the Chinese government is directly responsible for it, however, we cannot underestimate the guilt of the roots from where this waste is originating. The United States is among the largest exporters of electronic waste to China. It has been observed that the USA is not following any strict regulations connected to the task. They are not following the recommendations of the Basel Convention on the grounds that they never gave their consent to the recommendations of the same (Larmare, 2018). The absence of proper metrics and methods to detect the wrongful practice waste traders are minting money they are exporting the e-waste under the tag of recycling and others (Clapp, 2002).
Part 3: The Underlying causes and context
It is very unfortunate that most of the developed countries are not treating e-waste management as a serious threat to the environment. When we have a look at the organized sector of the industry then we find that after the emergence of the globalization deregulates some practices and provision to add fire into a race to the bottom phenomenon (Baram, 2009). The emergence of a township like Guiyu indicates towards the willingness of China to develop hubs like these and make money on the cost of environment. When we see the same case in a comparative framework then we can fix criminal accountability for the Chinese state and it can be debated on many points. One such point is "the anthropocentric conception of social order placing human beings above the ecological systems which they inhabit” (Aas, 2013: 220). The principle of natural justice implies that living in a safe environment is a fundamental right of every citizen living in any country; the concerns related to the environment cannot be compromised. Any state has the power to regularize it at all the possible levels. In the case of China and USA, they should come up with norms and taxation for the manufactures to make products under strict norms. It is the responsibility of the state to make sure that the environment should remain clean. They can use certain recommendations as guidelines and create laws at local levels. The town of Guiyu can set an interesting example of it. When we see the bigger picture clubbed together with The Guiyu then we find that recycling industries across the world claim to recycle 50 to 80 percent of hazardous goods in local facilities and rest of the waste is shipped to China. Imagine, what Guiyu is receiving is only 20 percent of the waste coming out of the industries across the world. Rest of the 80 percent is still in circulation and it has the power to convert many localities of the world into a graveyard of the electronic waste (Puckett et al., 2002).
The figures that we presented in the previous paragraph correspond to the year 2002, they also indicate a kind of role reversal. China is a communist country where the interests of the people hold the primary importance, the case of the Guiyu creates a paradox in front of us. Here China is giving more importance to the profits over the health of the people. The USA is a capitalistic country, although the system of the capitalism has its own recommendations related to the greater interest of the people, however, mostly it is believed that the system of the capitalism promotes the concept of the profit. In the present case, the USA is concerned about the health of the people and the environment of the country. It is true that we are discussing the case of Guiyu on the merits of a Green crime done by a state, however, we cannot decline the fact that if the Chinese government proves to be guilty in this case raised by us then it is also a crime against the ideologies as prescribed in the constitution of the country (Whitcare, 2017).
While looking at the issue of Guiyu from the point of view of a legal expert we can mention two proximate factors. Chinese government showed a criminal oversight on the regulation of the materials that they are importing in the country. It is happening on two levels first they failed in introducing proper legislation. The presence of the scientific and industry approved methods to judge the impact of the e-waste was totally missing from the deal (Sullivan, 2018). It appears that Chinese authorities created a set of proto authorities to ignore the presence of the proper recycling methods that can be termed as environmentally safe and best industry practices.
Part 4: Culpability
On the index of the culpability the USA is not far behind from China, if China is allowing these waste materials inside the country with the help of a "Proto System" and oversight at the higher levels than the USA is also creating an eco-system for this green crime. For instance, in spite of their commitment to the global bodies to fight against hazardous waste, they never levied a ban on such substances. Many companies won unwritten patronage where they are using proxy methods to export this waste, wrong leveling, deliberate ignorance towards the newly emerged scientifically proven facts, are few among them. It seems that authorities are hand in gloves with the industries in this oversight of the transportation of the E-Waste, which can be termed as smuggling if we implement the recommendations of the Basal conventions. On the index of culpability, we can consider China and USA acting as a partner in the Green crime that they are dealing (Williams, 2017).
Part 5: Evaluate the Response
The in-depth study of the case of the Guiyu clearly brings three partners in crime in front of us. Let's fix the culpability of China under the internal policy frameworks of the country. China banned the import of e-waste in the year 2002 itself (S.C.Wong, 2007). However, they left enough loop-holes in the policy and allowed an unwholesome proto industry in their country to flourish. It is true that they are not far behind in showing the tokenism associated with the causes related to the pollution, in the year 2014 the government of China came up with a scheme under the title of "War on Pollution." Under this scheme, they create a provision for the compensation for the victims from the side of the culprits violating the existing pollution related laws (Blanchard, 2014). This initiative was welcomed by the country.
On the scale of criminology-related theories this provision defies the fear of the quantum of the punishment. If the profit is higher and the quantum of the punishment is on the lower side then any such law may fail in creating deterrence in the mind of the individuals and industries.
Even after fixing the culpability of China and USA in the misfortune of the Guiyu, many questions remain unanswered. Who should be held responsible for the E-waste and its hazards? Should we blame the USA because they failed in controlling the per capita use of E-waste in their country? We can certainly fix blame on them when we check their export records. Allowing the trade of hazardous waste under any capacity be it a buyer or a seller is unlawful on all levels (Sullivan, 2018). Especially when the seller selling it to purchaser who has a lax attitude in the disposal of the waste, the blame can be fixed on China as well, they are not a party in the procurement of the E-waste still they are allowing the E-waste to make an entry in the deal because they want to make profit out of it. On both, the levels, USA and the State of China can be held responsible for this green crime which is all set to bring the town of the Guiyu on the verge of devastation equivalent to bomb drop in Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Higano, 2011).
On the lines of delivering a verdict to support the hypothesis that we made in the beginning, we can state that the Chinese state is responsible to act as an active partner in green crime. The eco-system of the Guiyu is a responsibility of the state of China, they can be charged with the blame of detrimental environmental conditions in the Guiyu. They failed in anticipating the environmental hazards once the flow of the e-waste reached higher levels. Instead of focusing on the Planet aspect of the environmental equation they preferred to think more about the profits from the deal.
On a comparative level, we can compare that model of the China and Guiyu with the models presented by Ghana and Vietnam, both these countries are low-income countries, still, they were aware of the fact that where to draw the line (Earley, 2013). This case of Guiyu also gives us an account of the bystanders. The USA and many other countries played the role of bystanders and failed in intervening in the case which became an environmental disaster for China (Sheleff, 1978).
The destruction caused by the E-waste cannot be felt by the other countries and peoples living in other localities. It is a relatively new and rare. Another factor is associated with the local people, some of them are happy with this arrangement because they are only a part of the main chain and located in the safe corners of the vicinity, they can also be held responsible, and the destruction caused by the e-waste can envelop them as well. Presently they are denying the harmful impacts but soon they may fall for the trap.
Another issue is connected with the absence of adequate laws connected to electronic waste. The implementation of the existing laws is another issue that should be taken with due seriousness Many countries that are indirectly involved in the trade should be logged in as active partners. (Hicks, 2005)
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