EARTH DAY BEGINS IN YOUR DRAWER or CLOSET
To Avoid Dumping in Developing Countries, a Recent Study Points to Using only e-Stewards® Certified Electronics Recyclers
Seattle. April 19, 2018.  Many of us have old phones lying in our drawers or old computers in our closet.  All of us know that we should recycle these, right?  But this Earth Day, be forewarned!  Not all electronics recyclers are what you think. According to a recent study entitled Scam Recycling using GPS trackers conducted by the Basel Action Network (BAN), many so-called electronics recyclers don't actually recycle your electronics -- but simply ship it off to developing countries.  There it is likely to be processed by poorly protected workers engaged in smashing and burning your old equipment in highly polluting "backyard" operations.  
Typical New Territories electronics junkyard containing printers from US consumers via US recyclers. These will be smashed open spreading toxic toners into worker's lungs and the environment. Copyright BAN.

BAN, a global watchdog group, recently conducted a study by dropping 205 old printers and monitors at Goodwill stores and at electronics recyclers. Inside the equipment they hid GPS trackers that sent BAN a signal of their precise location every 24 hours. After many months 40% of the equipment they had delivered to companies calling themselves recyclers and 15% percent given over to Goodwill were exported -- mostly to a little-known area of Hong Kong, China known as New Territories.  To complete the study BAN traveled to China.

"What we found was very disturbing," said BAN director Jim Puckett. "Undocumented, unprotected workers smashing mercury and toxic toner laden devices from the US, were compelled to breathe the deadly dust and fume. Much of the unrecyclable residues were scattered in waysides while many of the electronics junkyards routinely caught fire -- sending a plume of dioxins over schools and residences."

BAN even found boxes of electronic waste at the junkyards labeled as coming from Earth Day electronic waste collection events!

BAN director Jim Puckett documenting a Seattle-based recycler's exports to Hong Kong junkyards from their Earth Day collection event. Copyright PBS.
Unlike Europe, the US has never ratified the Basel Convention and the Basel Ban -- a treaty and decision that prohibits the dumping of hazardous wastes like e-waste on developing countries.  Thus, US recyclers can profit by legally exporting equipment to cheap and dirty processing rather than properly managing it more carefully, but at greater cost here at home. 

To give consumers and businesses alike, a safe and environmentally friendly option for ethical and environmental recycling, BAN has created the e-Stewards Certification.  e-Stewards Certified Recyclers will not export your old toxic phone, monitor or printer, nor will they
Undocumented laborers from mainland China and Southeast Asia, seen smashing apart LCD screens containing toxic mercury lamps, the only protection being a hat and a cloth mask.  Copyright HK01.
This Earth Day, BAN urges you to start your Spring cleaning by emptying your drawers and closets of your old electronics, and do recycle them, but ONLY by using an e-Stewards Certified Recycler or Refurbisher.  They can be found at www.e-Stewards.org.  Alternatively, Staples stores in the US have all agreed to deliver your old electronics only to e-Stewards.  
 
"By using only e-Stewards recyclers, we can all make a real difference in solving the e-waste crisis we now face by being conscious and rewarding only those companies that have chosen the ethical way to manage your old electronics instead of dumping the harm on our global neighbors," said Puckett. 

For more information:

Visit: www.ban.org/trash-transparency for more information on BAN's GPS tracking study.

Visit: e-Stewards.org for more information on e-Stewards.

Jim Puckett
Executive Director
Basel Action Network

Website: www.ban.org
e-Mail: jpuckett@ban.org
Tel: +1.206.652.5555, Fax: +1.206.652.5750
Skype: jimpuckett