The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Sarah Westervelt at BAN in Seattle: 1.206.604-9024, or
Jim Puckett at BAN in Seattle 1.206.354.0391,

Holiday e-Waste? Beware Fake Recyclers!

Old TVs and Computers are Likely to be Dumped in Developing Countries


For those of you that got that new flat screen TV as a
holiday gift and are wondering what to do with that old cathode ray
tube dinosaur now parked in the garage, the Basel Action Network (BAN),
a global toxic-trade watchdog organization, warns that old electronics
are hazardous and should not be handed over to just any company calling
itself a recycler.

"The sad little secret of our high-tech world is that we are creating
mountains of this new form of toxic waste, and most electronics
recyclers do not recycle the material at all, but simply throw it into
a seagoing container and export it to destinations like China, India
and Africa," said BAN's e-Stewardship Director Sarah Westervelt. "In
these developing countries, your old computer or TV will be smashed,
melted, and burned in highly dangerous and polluting operations by a
desperately improverished and unprotected workforce."

Even major electronics retailers and manufacturers' "take back"
programs do not guarantee your old toxic e-waste will not be shunted
offshore. State legislation is also unable to prevent exports to
developing countries.

To make sure that your electronic discards do not end up harming the
planet and the poor, BAN urges consumers to use only licensed
e-StewardTM recyclers. The e-Stewards have been vetted by BAN and have
agreed not to export hazardous electronics despite the profits that can
be made by avoiding the real costs of proper domestic recycling. Find
e-Steward recyclers here:

BAN was the first to document the cyber-age nightmare of the global e-waste trade and has since led teams from PBS's Frontline and CBS's 60 Minutes
to the global e-Wastelands of Africa and China. BAN investigators
returned from a trip last month to Ghana where they witnessed slum
dwellers burning US televisions and computers in a wetlands with
children rummaging through the toxic ashes for bits of metal.

The United States is the only developed country in the world that does
not strictly control the export of hazardous waste. For this reason,
BAN and the Electronic TakeBack Coalition are promoting legislation to
ban e-waste exports in addition to the consumer based e-Steward

"Our government is acting irresponsibly, so this holiday season, we all
need to do our part to spread good will on earth and not toxic
e-waste," said Westervelt. "In 2010, let's be sure to give our
recycling business only to those companies that handle e-waste without
harming others: e-Stewards."

For more information contact:

For photographs of electronic wastes dumped in Africa and China, see

For a list of e-Steward recyclers, see

Basel Action Network's mission is to champion global environmental health and justice by ending toxic trade, catalyzing a toxics-free future, and campaigning for everyone's right to a clean environment.