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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 30, 2010
3:15 PM

CONTACT: Basel Action Network

Jim Puckett, jpuckett@ban.org, 206-354-0391 Kathleen Goldstein, Electronics Takeback Coalition, 202-841-0295

Landmark E-Waste Export Bill Introduced to Stop Global E-Waste Dumping

Environmentalists and Electronic Manufacturers Support Effort

WASHINGTON - September 30 - U.S. Representatives Gene Green and Mike Thompson late yesterday introduced new landmark legislation - the Responsible Electronics Recycling Act of 2010 - to stop U.S. "recyclers" from dumping electronic waste on developing countries. The bill is supported by environmental groups as well as electronic manufacturers Apple, Dell, and Samsung, all of which already have policies that prohibit the export of e-waste to developing nations.

 "Policymakers, environmentalists and manufacturers worked together to forge an e-waste bill that is good for people, the environment and business," said Kate Sinding, senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council.  "This diverse support and cooperation shows that Americans want an e-waste law that does the right thing while also being economically sound.

The bill addresses the horrific dumping and primitive recycling operations which have the subject of recent media exposés, and a scathing report by the U.S. Governmental Accountability Office (GAO). 

"This e-waste export bill will stem the tide of the toxic techno-trash sent from the U.S. to developing countries around the world," said Barbara Kyle, National Coordinator of the Electronics TakeBack Coalition, a national environmental coalition which promotes responsible recycling of e-waste.  "Right now, consumers can't tell whether their local recycler will actually recycle their old products or dump them on the developing countries   - and this bill will solve that problem, as well as create new recycling jobs here in the U.S."

"Dell bans the export of e-waste to developing countries as part of our global disposition policy, and the ever-growing e-waste challenge makes it necessary for all recyclers to do the same," said Mark Newton, director of sustainable business at Dell. "The introduction of this bill is a great first step in giving consumers confidence that the systems they drop off for recycling will be handled responsibly."   

The bill adds a new section to the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) laws establishing a new category of "restricted electronic waste" which cannot be exported from the U.S. to developing nations. Non-hazardous or tested and working electronic products or parts are not restricted.  Other exemptions from the restrictions are:

  • products under warranty being returned to the manufacturing facility that made them;
  • products or parts being recalled; and
  • crushed cathode ray tube (CRT) glass cullet that is cleaned and fully prepared as feedstock into CRT glass manufacturing facilities
"The marketplace has rejected the practice of dumping e-waste on developing countries, but exporting instead of recycling is still common in our industry," said Robert Houghton, President of Redemtech, Inc., an Ohio based asset recovery company and certified e-Stewards serving Global 1000 companies in North America and Europe. "Such so-called recyclers are virtually defrauding customers who count on them for responsible recycling, at the same time they are helping to poison workers in recycling sweat shops overseas.  By ending the toxic trade in e-waste, this bill does the right thing, and will create thousands more jobs in recycling and refurbishment here in the U.S."

Currently, electronic waste is exported to developing countries by the majority of US companies that claim to be recyclers, to be bashed, burned, flushed with acids, and melted down in unsafe conditions in developing countries, such as China, India, Nigeria and Ghana.  Eighty percent of children in Guiyu, China, a region where many "recycled" electronics wind up, have elevated levels of lead in their blood, due to the toxins in those electronics, much of which originates in the U.S.  The plastics in the imported electronics are typically burned outdoors, which can emit deadly dioxin or furans, which are breathed in by workers and nearby residents. 

Twenty three states have passed e-waste recycling legislation, but these laws do not ban e-waste exports, which is an international trade issue, and not the constitutional jurisdiction of the states. Only Congress has the authority to legislate this much needed restriction.  

"This law has been a crying need now for eight years," said Jim Puckett, Executive Director of the Basel Action Network, the organization that first revealed the global e-waste dumping crisis.  "I have personally witnessed the horrors of US e-Waste dumped in the rice paddies of China and the swamps of Ghana and Nigeria. Outsourcing our jobs and poisons in this way is simply un-American and it has to stop."   

PDF of the bill is available upon request More information: 

E-waste Overview - www.electronicstakeback.com
E-waste reports, films and photos - www.ban.org and www.ban.org/photogallery/index.html
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