Toxic Trade News / 24 June 2009
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Stop Dumping Techno-Trash on Developing Countries!
Activists Urge Consumers, Manufacturers and Retailers to Use Only Ethical "e-Steward" Recyclers
BAN Media Release
24 June 2009 (Seattle) – The Basel Action Network (BAN), a leading global advocate for responsible toxic management practices, today called on consumers, manufacturers and retailers of computers and electronics to make a commitment to never allow their old e-waste to go to recyclers that will simply export it to developing countries.

BAN asks all consumers to only use "e-Steward" qualified recyclers -- a group of industry leaders that will not allow such damaging exports. Further, BAN announced today that they will soon be posting an ongoing report card on their website of all major computer manufacturers and retailers which will give pass/fail grading on whether the corporate policy forbids export to developing countries. Already, Dell and Sony have received high praise from BAN and the Electronic TakeBack Coalition for having committed not to export the e-wastes under their control.

The call to cease unsustainable and unjust exports of techno-trash comes on the wake of yet another major media exposé, PBS's Frontline, which last night depicted the horrors of primitive electronic waste processing in countries such as Ghana and China. This expose follows a previous 60 minutes report, and a scathing report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) last fall.

"Enough is enough," said BAN's Executive Director Jim Puckett. "Our government sits on its hands and refuses to prohibit this type of toxic waste dumping the rest of the developed world has outlawed a long time ago. There's no excuse for this dirty trade other than pure greed. We have excellent U.S. recyclers and refurbishers here that are sick and tired of losing business to the dumpers. They can do this important job in an environmentally sound and ethical way without pushing costs and harm on to the backs of the children in Africa and Asia."

In lieu of government action, BAN has over the past years partnered with leading electronics recyclers known as e-Stewards (find them at who have agreed to take a cut in profits in order to take the high road and actually process toxic electronic wastes responsibly in the US or other developed countries. The
e-Stewards already include 33 companies in over 100 locations that have been qualified by BAN. Early next year the “e-Steward’s Initiative will become the continent’s first ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB) independently audited and accredited electronic waste recycler certification program that will forbid the dumping of toxic e-waste in developing countries, local landfills and incinerators; the use of prison labor to process
e-waste; and the unauthorized release of private data contained in discarded computers.

In early 2010, the e-Stewards program will transition to a full certification that is accredited by ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB). This independently audited, fully accredited electronic waste recycler certification program will forbid the dumping of toxic e-waste in developing countries, local landfills and incinerators; the use of prison labor to process e-waste; and the unauthorized release of private data contained in discarded computers.

BAN and the Electronic TakeBack Coalition are also pursuing federal legislation to prohibit export nationally. To their dismay, a recent bill offered by Congressman Jim Thompson (Califorrnia) and Gene Green (Texas) was insupportable because it would continue to allow exports for reuse similar to what PBS revealed in Ghana.

"The e-Stewards project is a response to the failure of government and some of the industry to act as responsible global citizens in the age of information technology," continues Puckett. "But it is also a wonderful example of how industry leaders and activists can move mountains when they work together - in this case, move mountains of e-waste to truly responsible recyclers."

"Currently, the truly responsible recyclers in the U.S. and Canada face unfair competition from thousands of unethical waste recyclers in North America. These companies are more accurately described as waste shippers," said Marshall Johnson, CEO of Asset Recovery Corp., an e-Steward recycler based in Minnesota. "We strongly support BAN's efforts and urge consumers and businesses to only use qualified e-Stewards. This is the only way to ensure their old electronics will be safely recycled here at home.

To view a short film on e-Stewards, E-Stewardship: Taking Responsibility in the IT Age, click here.


For more information:

The e-Stewards Initiative:
Global e-waste dumping:
The Electronics TakeBack Coalition:


Jim Puckett: 206-354-0391,
Sarah Westervelt: 206-652-5751,

FAIR USE NOTICE. This document contains copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The Basel Action Network is making this article available in our efforts to advance understanding of ecological sustainability and environmental justice issues. We believe that this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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Select images courtesy of Chris Jordan