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Scrap Industries Slammed for "More of the Same" Policies Allowing Global Toxic Waste Dumping
SEATTLE - March 26 - 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.