Toxic Trade News / 14 April 2011
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Electronics Industry Launches Misleading e-Waste Recycling Initiative
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14 April 2011 – An industry-wide recycling intiative launched Wednesday by the Consumer Electronics Association is flawed and misleading according to two watchdog groups.

The Consumer Electronics Association says its new eCycling Leadership initiative will recycle one billion pounds of electronics annually by 2016, while improving consumer awareness, providing transparent metrics, and increasing responsible recycling and collection opportunities.

But according to the Basel Action Network (BAN), the initiative lists thousands of collection sites that 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, the group said.

"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."

The R2 certification for recyclers currently supported by many CEA members falls short of addressing the problem and does not prohibit the export of e-waste in accordance with international rules, BAN said. 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.

BAN says 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.

With the 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 says 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.

CEA said in a release that the eCycling Leadership Initiative supports the voluntary implementation third-party recycler certification. CEA intends to report on the capacity and performance of third-party certification systems to provide the basis for "future consumer electronics industry commitments regarding third-party certified recyclers."

The Electronics TakeBack Coalition also joined the criticism of the CEA's new program. On the group's blog, Barbara Kyle said the initiative is "seriously underpowered" for several reasons, including a lack of information about the companies participating and the operating details.

She also said the CEA is providing no new information to help people find collection sites and is failing to commit to the highest standards for e-waste recycling.

Ultimately, she argues: "CEA's strategy with this announcement is to stop the States from passing laws on e-waste recycling. Today's announcement was, I believe, the first step towards convincing States that industry will step up on its own, so no need to keep passing those pesky state e-waste laws. Then they intend to make this program the basis of national takeback legislation. They don't even hide this strategy. But with no details provided today on CEA's program, it seems unlikely that legislators contemplating an e-waste law will be convinced that industry is on the verge of solving this problem."

Read more at the link below.


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