Target Stores Earth Day Event Causes Concern

For Immediate Release

Basel Action Network
Contact: 
Sarah Westervelt, Policy Director,
e-Mail: swestervelt@ban.org,
Telephone:  206-652-5555
 
Lauren Roman, Business Director,
e-Mail: lroman@ban.org,
Telephone: 973-224-7632

Target Stores Earth Day Event Causes Concern

Target Stores Won't Tell Public Where Their Collected Electronic Waste Will Go

SEATTLE - Customers
hoping to take advantage of Target’s new Earth Day 2010 recycling
program are faced with more questions than answers. Having learned that
all recycling is not necessarily responsible recycling, conscientious
consumers have been asking their local Target stores, “Where will my
things be recycled?”  The usual answer they receive from Target
employees? “We don’t know.”

 
A
growing number of consumers are realizing that buying a product means
taking full responsibility for that product, even when it is no longer
useful. This is particularly important for goods like electronics that
contain hazardous materials that are detrimental to the environment
when disposed. Exposes on 60 Minutes, Frontline, 20/20
and others have documented how most electronics collected for
‘recycling’ in the US are shipped to developing countries where the
hazardous materials are destroying the environment and poisoning
workers and residents.
 
Toxic trade watchdog group the Basel Action Network (BAN) was alerted to the problem when e-Scrap News,
a trade journal for the electronics recycling industry, reported that
Target “did not say” who would be doing their electonic waste
recycling. BAN aimed to find out if anybody in Target stores or
headquarters would say.    
 
BAN
volunteers made inquiries in person and by phone to Target stores in 12
different US cities and to Target’s Minneapolis headquarters. In every
case, Target employees were either unwilling or unable to say what
would happen to the toxic e-waste Target is collecting nationwide. 
According to BAN, this lack of transparency about how the used
electronics would be recycled is alarming because BAN estimates that
about 80 percent of what consumers deliver for recycling in programs
such as these is exported to developing countries.
 
“There’s
no good reason for hiding responsible recycling, so Target’s lack of
transparency is troubling,” says Sarah Westervelt, BAN’s e-Stewardship
Policy Director.  “People asked the same simple question over and over
again in Target stores across the country and just got the same run
around.”
 
In
2008, the Government Accountability Office echoed BAN’s concerns and
reported that the US government does not adequately regulate and
control irresponsible and environmentally damaging toxic e-waste
exports.  Private data is often left on hard drives and phones,
creating opportunities for fraud or identity theft.  Or the waste can
be diverted to municipal landfills or dangerous prison operations.
 
BAN
recommends that the public always avoid any e-waste collection program
that will not provide data destruction or assure full transparency and
instead use recyclers that will not export hazardous e-waste to
developing countries.   Last week, BAN launched its e-Stewards
Certification program to identify recyclers who manage e-waste in a
globally responsible manner.  That program has been endorsed by over a
dozen leading corporations and nearly 70 environmental groups worldwide.
 
“The public needs to be vigilant not only with Target, but with any e-waste collection event or program,” said Westervelt.
 
BAN
documented public inquiries to Target Stores in the following cities:
Houston, Texas; West Houston, Texas; San Francisco, California;
Westminster, Colorado; Atlanta, Georgia; Granger, Indiana; Vestal, New
York; Portland, Oregon; Dickson City, Pennsylvania; Tacoma,
Washington;  Seattle, Washington and the Minnesota, Target
headquarters. 
 
For more information Contact:
 
Sarah Westervelt, BAN e-Stewardship Policy Director, e-Mail: swestervelt@ban.org, Telephone:  206-652-5555
 
Lauren Roman, BAN e-Stewards Business Director, e-Mail: lroman@ban.org, Telephone: 973-224-7632
 
For Target Store Volunteer Call Summary Log Sheet: www.ban.org/Library/targetlog.pdf
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