The Computer Science department and Data & News Society have invited Shan He, a Guangzhou-based civic scientist as well as the project director of Chinese NGO Greenovation Hub, to hold a workshop on harvesting water quality data through simple chemical test kits and DIY water monitoring device for environmental investigation on the 18th of January, 2018. A dozen of mixed students from computer science and journalism background and some interested citizens attended and worked in groups.
Data is the key for environmental investigation and monitoring. However it is very hard for ordinary citizens to get access to. Let water quality be example, which is associated closely with our daily life. When serious environmental disasters break out, with limited information disclosure from government, general public can hardly know the truth in time. The motivates us to organise this workshop that enables you to make DIY monitoring devices with open technology.
We have a special edition for DNW this week dedicated to e-waste in Hong Kong. The notes are derived from a seminar plus brainstorm session with researchers from CUHK, HKBU, PolyU, Lingnan U, activists from Land Justice, Open Data Hong Kong, CODE4HK. This is a quick note from memory, so evidence/ statistics/ figures quoted in this note need further verification before you use them. There are enough pointers for the reader to go back the source and find direct contacts.
The news points to follow
E-waste refers to the abandoned Electric and Electronic Equipments (EEE). With the booming of ICT industry, we are witnessing more and more e-waste these days. Why should you care? Let’s cut through the news points first:
75% e-waste is disappeared, as Green Peace estimates. It collects data of EEE production and calculates expected e-waste according to the lifespans of devices. Comparing this with the e-waste collection data from formal government bodies, we can see a 75% gap, meaning those are lost track
97.7% e-waste in Hong Kong goes to unknown channels (figure in 2009; may change due to new recycling plant; government is trying to increase supervised channels). This may signal a large number of illegal operation, but not necessary all illegal.
Hong Kong used to import a large volume of e-wastes given the loophole in the legislations. Those e-wastes went to mainland China for processing. The export to China was disrupted at 2015.
Yards/ factories/ workshops that collect, process and dump e-wastes exist in many remote locations in Hong Kong, especially New Territory. Those locations are not easily accessible, protected by “private lands” and “gangs”, as put by Land Justice investigators.
Many workers in those yards are illegal immigrants, for example from mainland and South East Asia. They usually work without proper protective measures.