Proposed e-Waste Bill Not Good Enough for Watchdog Groups

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Photo via Endlisnis via Flickr CC

A proposed bill circulating in Washington could restrict exports of certain types of electronics materials meant for recycling, except if it is intended for "repair or refurbishment." However, this exception has watchdog groups like the Electronics TakeBack Coalition angered because it provides a loophole too many recyclers will take advantage of. Just as we mentioned when we discussed Dell's new stance on e-cycling, loopholes are easy to create when it comes to recycling gadgets. This bill, HR 1395, comes from an equally good place with green intentions, but doesn't really go the distance in some major ways.

Primarily, the ETBC notes how the proposed bill states that e-waste may still be exported, so long as the exporting companies "certify annually to the United States government that the export of such items is intended for refurbishment."

It's easy to slap a tag on something and say it's intended for refurbishment, when it is clear it'll end up straight in an e-waste dump.

The ETBC states: "the bill's language merely requires an annual statement that the intention is for reuse. The bill fails to recognize that exporters can easily claim a particular intent, and later, if discovered, conveniently argue that any mishandling in the countries was beyond their control. There is no requirement to verify that all products exported were, in fact, sold into reuse."

The Basel Action Network, which just traced shipping containers of e-waste going overseas that were claimed to be destined for local recycling centers, also chimes in, saying:

"We're all in favor of the reuse of electronic equipment," said Jim Puckett, Director of the Basel Action Network, a global watchdog group on toxic trade. "But this bill plays right into the hands of the thousands of brokers that want to send broken, outdated equipment to developing countries and a whole lot of useless toxic parts along for the ride. This bill now legitimizes that despicable practice," he said.

It sounds like while this bill has it's heart in the right place, it will do absolutely nothing to truly ensure dangerous e-waste exports end. More stringent language will be required to satisfy groups that work hard to end the toxic dumping of electronics.

Gathered from ZDNet, IPS, and ETBC
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