Toxic Trade News / 12 February 2010
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Environmentalists and Consumer Groups Applaud HPs Policy on E-Waste Export
BAN and ETBC Media Release
 
   
 
12 February 2010 (San Francisco, CA) – Environmentalists and consumer groups applauded Hewlett Packard (HP) for its announcement today of a policy that prohibits the export of toxic electronic waste from developed countries, like the U.S., to any developing country.

The Electronics TakeBack Coalition, which promotes responsible recycling and green design in the electronics industry, lauded HP’s e-waste policy as a high standard in the industry.

“This announcement shows that HP is an environmental leader in this industry,” said Barbara Kyle, Electronics TakeBack Coalition National Coordinator. “Companies managing e-waste need strict programs in place to prevent pushing our problems on developing nations and to stem the stream of toxic waste. With this policy, HP is making a commitment to do their part to stop the global dumping of e-waste.”

Specifically HP will not export non-working electronic equipment or parts from developed to developing nations, unless they are deemed non-hazardous, according to definitions under the Basel Convention – an international treaty on toxic waste trade.

“The U.S. doesn’t have laws that make it illegal to dump our e-waste on developing nations,” said Jim Puckett, Executive Director of the Basel Action Network (BAN), a global watchdog group on toxic trade, that has produced films and reports exposing the global e-waste dumping problem. “HP should be commended for this new policy, which goes beyond U.S. laws.”

An August 2008 report by the Government Accountability Office found that “a substantial amount ends up in countries such as China and India, where they are often handled and disposed of unsafely. These countries often lack the capacity to safely handle and dispose of used electronics if the units are not in reusable condition when received, and the countries’ extremely low labor costs and the reported lack of effective environmental controls make unsafe recycling commonplace.”

Much of these exports are made labeled for reuse, supposedly to “bridge the digital divide.” But a 2005 film and report by the Basel Action Network, Digital Dump: Exporting Reuse and Abuse to Africa, found that of the estimated 500 40-foot containers shipped to Lagos, Nigeria each month, as much as 75% of the imports are “junk” and are not economically repairable or marketable.

“It’s important that HP is taking voluntary steps to make sure the e-waste they control isn’t getting dumped on poor countries, but there will still be millions of pounds of e-waste exported by others each year, unless Congress takes action to stop it,” said Barbara Kyle. “We urge Congress to pass legislation modeled on HP’s policy, that ensures that we aren’t exporting our e-waste problem to other countries.”

 

Links:
Electronics TakeBack Coalition: www.electronicstakeback.com
Basel Action Network: www.ban.org

Facts on e-waste export:
http://www.electronicstakeback.com/problem/export_problem.htm

Contact: Kathleen Goldstein; 202-841-0295

 
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