Today it\’s all about blood minerals.
There are dozens of issues, such as starvation wages, bullying, abuse and 60-hour weeks in the sweatshops manufacturing them, the debt bondage into which some of the workers are pressed, the energy used, the hazardous waste produced. But I will concentrate on just one: are the components soaked in the blood of people from the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo? For 17 years, rival armies and militias have been fighting over the region\’s minerals. Among them are metals critical to the manufacture of electronic gadgets, without which no smartphone would exist: tantalum, tungsten, tin and gold.
And the thing is this is a problem that is largely solved. No, not through Dodd Frank either, but through the industry itself. Here.
Sorry, to say that it is \”solved\” is too extreme. We\’ve already put in motion all the things that need to be put into motion to solve it. It\’s a complex problem that takes some time to deal with. But all those things are being done.
It\’s been years since you could sell tantalum containing materials to processors without proving that it did not come from conflict areas in hte DRC. To anyone other than the Chinese processors that is. Cabot, Starck etc simply won\’t purchase without the necessary proof of sourcing. Tungsten and tin are very similar. You can\’t just rock up with some ore these days. Gold is its own problem as there are just so many ways that you can introduce material into the recycling chain that it\’s quite simply a problem that never will get solved.
My point being that the best that can be done is already being done.