Toxic Trade News / 23 June 2008
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U.S. Government OK's Illegal Trafficking in Hazardous Electronic Waste
New "Responsible Recycling" Standard Slammed
BAN Press Release
23 June 2008 (Seattle/Bali, Indonesia) – On the opening day of the 9th Conference of Parties to the Basel Convention, taking place in Bali, Indonesia, the Basel Action Network (BAN) today slammed the US Environmental Protection Agency for sponsoring and funding the development of a U.S. e-waste recycling standard that knowingly allows US "recyclers" to continue to export some lead-tin soldered circuit boards to countries that are likely to forbid their importation from the US.

At the last hours of the negotiations prior to field testing (begun this month) the so-called "Responsible Recycling (R2) Practices for Electronics Recyclers," the US government caved into the demands of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) and called for an exemption for some toxic circuit boards from a provision that would require exporters to ensure the legality of their exports prior to shipping. Most developing countries, consider circuit boards to be a controlled hazardous waste under the Basel Convention and therefore illegal to import from the United States.

"The U.S. routinely allows massive exports of toxic e-waste to countries it knows prohibit such importation," said Jim Puckett, coordinator of BAN. "Until now though, they have never openly condoned this practice. Now, for the first time, the US EPA is, as part of their own 'best practices' initiative, shamefully sanctioned a standard that openly advocates illegal trafficking in toxic electronic waste."

For years, the U.S. government has ignored a 1986 OECD binding agreement requiring prior notification and permission from recipient countries before exporting hazardous wastes. Furthermore, the US federal government has never ratified the Basel Convention, the international agreement calling for similar waste trade controls, nor the Basel Ban Amendment, which forbids outright the export of hazardous wastes from developed to developing countries. The U.S. is the only developed nation that has failed to ratify the Convention.

In response to public pressure, in 2006 the federal government agreed to require prior informed consent for the export of cathode ray tubes from old TVs and computer monitors (CRTs). Yet to date, there has been no enforcement of this CRT rule despite what industry insiders consider a very robust trade in old computer monitors and TVs being exported to Malaysia, China, Vietnam and India without consent or notification of any kind.

"Without a doubt, the United States is the world champion e-waste dumping nation," said Jim Puckett. "The US government not only deliberately ignores international law and the national waste importation laws of most countries of the world, but our leaders even ignore our own laws. They will no doubt continue to treat the world as their toxic dumping ground unless nations stand up and begin to diligently enforce border controls for toxic e-waste, return illegal shipments and severely punish illegal importation."



Jim Puckett of BAN at 9th Conference of Parties in Bali from 23-28 June.
(206) 652-5555 (Seattle). Hotel: Melia Bali,

Sarah Westervelt of BAN from Seattle: (206) 652-5555, cell: (206) 604-9024,

For a full critique of the R2 Standard see:

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Select images courtesy of Chris Jordan