New “Responsible Recycling” Standard Slammed

Seattle/Bali, Indonesia. 23 June 2008. On the opening day or the 9th Conference of Parties to the Basel Convention in Bali, Indonesia, the Basel Action Network (BAN) today slammed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for sponsoring a funding the development of a U.S. electronic wasterecycling standard that knowingly allows U.S. recyclers to cntinue to export tocic e-waste to countries that are likely to forbid their importation from the U.S.

At the last hour of the negotiations before field testing the emerging standard known as “Responsible Recycling (R2) Practices for Electronics Recyclers,” the U.S. Government caved into the demands of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) and called for an exemption for some toxic circuit boards from a provision that would tequire exporters to ensure the legality of their exports prior to shipping. Most developing countries consider circuit boards to be a controlled hazardous waste under the Basel Convention and therefore illegal to import from the United States.

“The U.S. routineley allows massive exports of toxic e-waste to countries it knows prohibit such importation,” sait Jim Puckett, coordinator of BAN. “Until now though, they have never openly condoned this practice. Now, for the first time, the U.S. EPA is, as part of its own ‘best practices’ initiative, shamefully sanctioning a standard that openly advocates illegal trafficking in toxic electronic waste.”

For years, the U.S. government has ignored a 1986 OECD binding agreement requiring prior notification and permission from recipient countries before exproting hazardous wastes. Furthermore, the U.S. federal government has never ratified the Basel Convention, the international agreement calling for similar waste trade controls, nor the Basel Ban Amendment, which forbids outright the export of hazardous wastes from developed to developing countries. The U.S. is the only developed nation that has failed to ratify the Convention.

In response to public pressure, in 2006 the federal government agreed to require prior informed consent for the esport of cathode ray tubes from old TVs and computer monitors (CRTs). Yet to date, there has been no enforcement of theis CRT rule despite what industry insiders consider a very robust trade in old computer monitors and TVs being exported to Malaysia, China, Vietnam and India without consent or notification of any kind.

“Without a doubt, the United states is the world champion e-waste dumping nation,” said Jim Puckett. “The U.S. government not only deliberately ignores international law and the national waste importation laws of most countries of the world, but our leaders even ignore our own laws. They will no doubt continue to treat the world as their toxic dumping ground unless nations stand up and begin to diligently enforce border controls for toxic e-waste, return illegal shipments and severely punish illegal importation.”

Jim Puckett of BAN at 9th Conference of Parties in Bali from 23-28 June.
(206) 652-5555 (Seattle). Melia Bali Hotel: (62)-361-771510, Room 2229,

Sarah Westervelt of BAN from Seattle: (206) 652-5555, cell: (206)-604-9024,

For a full critique of the R2 Standard see: