Scrap Industries Slammed for "More of the Same" Policies Allowing Global Toxic Waste Dumping

For Immediate Release

Basel Action Network
Contact: 

Jim Puckett, Basel Action Network, 206-652-5555, jpuckett@ban.org.

Scrap Industries Slammed for "More of the Same" Policies Allowing Global Toxic Waste Dumping

SEATTLE - The toxic trade watchdog Basel Action Network (BAN)
today denounced the long awaited attempt at policy reform for electronic
waste export from the Institute for Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI)
as a greenwash, a perpetuation of the same "export your harm" approach
used to dispose of the growing mountains of toxic electronic wastes
produced each year in the US.  ISRI's latest export policy fails to
reference or even take note of the Basel Convention, a UN agreement that
strictly regulates the global trade in wastes now in force for 172
countries.  BAN also decried ISRI's head-in-sand position that
developing countries can somehow manage toxic waste safely, when it is
apparent that such countries lack the societal resources, infrastructure
and safety nets to mitigate the deadly impacts of toxic waste
processing.  

"Dumping toxic, problematic wastes on developing countries is an easy
way to make money, and the US scrap industry seems hell-bent on
perpetuating that practice even when it has been globally outlawed,"
said Jim Puckett, Executive Director of the BAN.  "This latest refusal
to reform is really tragic," he continued.   "Not only does this
irresponsible practice succeed in exporting poisons to those least able
to deal with it, but it means the loss of green US jobs as well."   

The Basel Convention treaty forbids any member country from importing
wastes from a non-Party like the United States.  Therefore, ISRI's
policy of ignoring the Basel Convention succeeds in creating illegal
trafficking in waste worldwide.  Further, while ISRI claims that it will
seek to export only to good facilities abroad, its policy position
ignores the reality that even state-of-art technologies operating in
countries that lack laws, monitoring, enforcement and infrastructure to
support those facilities (including downstream residual waste
management) will fail to prevent damage to the local environment and
human health.

"It is a cruel joke that ISRI perpetuates the myth of 'environmentally
sound management' in developing countries," says Puckett.  "If a
developing country like China or India had everything it needed to
properly manage hazardous wastes like e-waste, it would no longer be a
developing country." 

BAN also claims that ISRI's policy of not allowing export for just
recycling--and not disposal--is disingenuous as well, as all recycling
must involve some disposal of residual material.   For example,
recycling LCD screens or computer monitors inevitably involves having to
dispose of toxic cadmium compounds or mercury.

The ISRI press release touting the new policy also associates itself
with a recent Arizona State University study that makes a claim that
trade bans will become irrelevant by 2016-2018 because developing
countries will be generating more waste by that time than the developed
countries.   BAN declares this notion as morally bankrupt.   

"This is tantamount to saying the richest residents in a community are
justified in dumping their garbage on their poorest neighbors simply
because those poor neighbors have garbage of their own," said Puckett.  
"Such environmental injustice would never be tolerated in this country
and it should not be tolerated on the global stage either," he said.

BAN calls on all consumers of electronics, large and small, to not be
duped by fake recyclers, many of them ISRI members, that simply export
old TVs and computers.  Rather, they must ensure that their electronic
discards are handled only by e-Stewards® Recyclers - a vetted list of
recyclers that are committed to the world's first global electronic
waste certification program consistent with international law.

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