Photo via goosmurf via Flickr CC
A little less than a year ago, Dell announced that it was not going to export e-waste to developing countries - a corporate policy that is only surprising in that every single electronics manufacturer doesn't already have it on the books. While it seems like an obvious part of acting as a responsible company, it's a notion that has yet to make it into more companies' consciousness. However, thankfully HP is stepping up and following Dell's lead. They've just updated their corporate policy to include a ban on sending e-waste from rich nations into poor nations to be dismantled. The Environmental Leader reports that HP's new version of its e-waste policy now states that "HP does not permit electronic waste to be exported from developed (member) countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the European Union (EU) to developing (non-OECD/EU) countries, either directly or through intermediaries."
While non-hazardous materials - as defined by the Basel Action Network - and equipment intended for donation or resale can be exported, any e-waste that is toxic in nature will be tracked through the recycling chain as it is processed by responsible recyclers who are audited by HP on an annual basis to make sure they conform to social and environmental responsibility (SER) policies.
Typically when manufacturers or policy makers create standards like this, they leave a little wiggle room to bend the rules. However, even the Electronics Take-Back Coalition and the Basel Action Network are applauding HP, showing that the company has made a strong move.
"This announcement shows that HP is an environmental leader in this industry," said Barbara Kyle, Electronics TakeBack Coalition National Coordinator, in a press release. "Companies managing e-waste need strict programs in place to prevent pushing our problems on developing nations and to stem the stream of toxic waste. With this policy, HP is making a commitment to do their part to stop the global dumping of e-waste."
While this is a no-brainer move and is frustrating that it isn't yet universal, we have to give props where they're due. And both Dell and now HP deserve applause for being more proactive on e-waste than much of the electronics industry. It's wonderful to see companies stepping up, and now there's even less of a reason for other companies to not do the same. Though stronger regulation and enforcement is still needed on the part of the government to ensure that companies less forward-thinking as Dell and HP cannot export toxic gadgets to e-waste dumps.
"The U.S. doesn't have laws that make it illegal to dump our e-waste on developing nations," said Jim Puckett, Executive Director of the Basel Action Network (BAN), a global watchdog group on toxic trade, that has produced films and reports exposing the global e-waste dumping problem. "HP should be commended for this new policy, which goes beyond U.S. laws."