E-waste export law needed: EPA chief
by Paul Schaffer, American Metal Market
28 May 2010 (New York) – The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is calling for stronger laws on exports of discarded electronics containing dangerous substances, although the agency hasn’t disclosed an actual proposal yet.
The problem calls for “legislative fixes that will help limit harmful exports that are happening under the name of legitimate reuse, refurbishment and recycling,” Lisa Jackson, EPA’s administrator, told a law enforcement
forum this week.
“Misleading labels claim equipment is for reuse when really it’s just junk,” she said, noting that she had expected to publicize the agenda during a trip to Africa but the offshore oil spill quashed her travel plans.
Other laws and rules “can create incentives to spur the design of better, safer electronics, stopping some of the problems before they begin,” Jackson said.
“We must also work together to collect the most accurate information on where e-waste goes and what happens once it gets there,” she added.
Jackson was at a Global E-Waste Crime Group gathering in Virginia sponsored by the police liaison agency Interpol. Most of the meetings admitted only law enforcement employees. Interpol’s David Asante-Apeatu was
quoted in a publicity release as advocating strategies “to identify and dismantle the networks behind these destructive crimes.”
Vermont recycler Robin Ingenthron, who attended Jackson’s talk, told AMM that he cautioned her afterward about the risk of “sacrificing the large and legitimate reuse market” if a tighter rulebook is written carelessly.
Ingenthron is the organizer of an advocacy and consulting group called the World Reuse, Repair and Recycling Association.
Also attending was Jim Puckett, founder of Basel Action Network, which views loopholes as a greater risk than crimping the refurbishment business.
“If EPA is finally turning the corner from being free traders in toxic waste to accepting export prohibitions to developing countries, many (of us) will be thrilled and look forward to working with them toward that goal,” Puckett told AMM.
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