Environmentalists and Consumer Groups Applaud Dellís Policy on E-Waste Export
BAN/ETBC Media Release
12 May 2009 (San Francisco, CA) – Environmentalists and consumer groups applauded Dell for its announcement today of a policy that prohibits the export of toxic electronic waste to any developing country.
The Electronics TakeBack Coalition, which promotes responsible recycling and green design in the electronics industry, lauded Dell’s e-waste policy as the highest standard in the industry.
“Dell’s export policy sets the standard for others in the industry and should serve as the model for long overdue federal policy on e-waste export,” said Barbara Kyle, Electronics TakeBack Coalition National Coordinator. “Unless a company has a strict program to prevent it, there is a high probability that their recycling vendors are exporting the e-waste they handle. Dell’s policy goes beyond its competitors, some of whom are still exporting non-working products to developing countries.”
“As one of the world’s leading providers of technology, we recognize our responsibility to ensure that technology is disposed of properly at the end of its usable life,” said Tod Arbogast, Dell Director of Sustainable Business. “We’ve worked hard to provide consumers worldwide with a free, convenient, responsible method for recycling their computers. We strongly encourage the rest of the industry to do the same around the world using globally consistent practices like this one.”
Specifically Dell will not export (directly or via any vendors in its recycling downstream) any non-working electronic product from developed nations to developing nations for recycling, reuse, repair, or disposal. (The only exception is the export of products sent back to the original equipment manufacturers for warranty repairs).
“Even though US laws don’t restrict most exports, Dell has decided to go well beyond these inadequate regulations,” said Jim Puckett, Executive Director of the Basel Action Network (BAN), a global watchdog group that has produced films and reports exposing the global e-waste dumping problem. “Dell deserves high marks for leading the way as a responsible corporate citizen with their new e-waste export policy.”
An August 2008 report by the Government Accountability Office found that “a substantial amount ends up in countries such as China and India, where they are often handled and disposed of unsafely. These countries often lack the capacity to safely handle and dispose of used electronics if the units are not in reusable condition when received, and the countries’ extremely low labor costs and the reported lack of effective environmental controls make unsafe recycling commonplace.”
Many of these exports are sent labeled for reuse, supposedly to “bridge the digital divide.” But a 2005 film and report by the Basel Action Network, Digital Dump: Exporting Reuse and Abuse to Africa, found that of the estimated 500 40-foot containers shipped to Lagos, Nigeria each month, as much as 75% of the imports are “junk” and are not economically repairable or marketable.
“We can easily fix this growing problem,” said Barbara Kyle. “We urge Congress to pass legislation that slams the door on e-waste exports for recycling without loopholes allowing “sham repair” exports. The Electronics TakeBack Coalition hopes Congress will craft an immediate legislative solution modeled on Dell’s high standard.”
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