Toxic Trade News / 13 April 2011
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CEA’s New Initiative Will Likely Cause more e-Waste to Flood Developing Countries
“If you really care, only use e-Stewards Recyclers who will not export to developing countries”
BAN Media Release
13 April 2011 (Seattle) – In response to the Consumer Electronics Association’s latest announcement that they aim to triple the amount of e-waste being recycled, the Basel Action Network (BAN) raises concerns that the initiative is misleading.

“When the public thinks of recycling, they do not envisage their old computers and TVs being smashed and burned in China, India or Nigeria,” said BAN’s Executive Director Jim Puckett. “And yet despite the CEA statement that ‘the use of recyclers and downstream processors who dump end-of-life electronics in developing nations’ should not be allowed, they continue to offer no concrete commitment to abide by the Basel Convention and the Basel Ban Amendment, which make such exports illegal, period.”

Currently, there is only one recycler audit – e-Stewards® Certification – that requires adherence to international law and bans the export of toxic e-waste to developing countries, including exports of broken equipment for reuse. While CEA supports certifying recyclers generally, they fail to mention that the R2 certification currently supported by many of their members falls short of addressing the problem and does not prohibit the export of e-waste in accordance with international rules. R2 also allows the dumping of mercury in landfills as well as the use of domestic prison labor for handling toxics, a practice long denounced by civic society groups and social justice advocates.

The new CEA initiative lists thousands of collection sites which do not appear to have necessary controls in place to ensure only responsible domestic recycling will take place. The net result of collecting more from the public without proper controls is a likely increase in exports of US toxic e-waste to developing countries.

“Dirty recycling is worse for the environment and public health than landfilling the material in the US.” said Puckett. “It’s easy to say you want to recycle a billion pounds. But unless you can guarantee that you will recycle that billion pounds here in the USA, in a clean, green and fully transparent manner, and not allow that toxic waste to plague the rest of the world, you are doing more harm than good. The CEA announcement is very concrete on recycling quantity, but is smoke and mirrors on recycling quality.”

With the laudable exception of Samsung and Nvidia (the only two electronics manufacturers that have committed to fully responsible and accountable recycling practices by becoming e-Stewards Enterprises), BAN notes that most manufacturers continue to

  • Refuse to tell the public where their collected, off-spec and internal e-waste goes to be recycled;

  • Fight to retain the right to export non-functioning e-waste resulting in hazardous waste accumulations in developing countries;

  • Refuse to accept the Basel Ban Amendment agreed by a consensus of countries and now practiced by 33 of the 41 developed countries.

BAN calls on CEA members to leap beyond the collective announcement and individually take leadership to embrace the e-Stewards Certification program, which provides accredited certification of recycler conformity to the highest recycling standard.


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