According to Green Media Toolshed, environmental groups concerned about electronic waste are urging the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to issue a policy requiring that federal agencies will not allow their used electronics to be exported to developing nations, where the toxics inside can cause significant harm to the environment and public health.
“Many unscrupulous recyclers don’t really recycle our e-waste, but simply export it to developing nations, where the toxic materials in these products end up poisoning workers and communities,” said Barbara Kyle, National Coordinator of the Electronics TakeBack Coalition. “Exporting is such a common practice in this industry, you need to be very diligent in selecting and monitoring your recyclers to make sure they are not doing this with your old electronics. We are saying we want the Federal Government to exercise that level of diligence.”
A Presidential Proclamation last November announced the creation of a new Interagency Task Force on Electronics Stewardship, led by the CEQ. The President called on the federal agencies to develop a national strategy for electronics stewardship, including procedures for how the agencies manage their own e-waste. The task force must conclude its work in May 2011, when an announcement on e-waste policy is expected from the White House.
In a letter sent to CEQ Chairwoman Nancy Sutley, the Electronics TakeBack Coalition (ETBC) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) urged the CEQ and the Task Force to adopt a policy whereby federal agencies will no longer permit their used electronic products - purchased with taxpayer funds - to be exported to developing nations, given that the toxics inside can and have caused great harm, and that this trade usually violates the laws of importing countries.
“President Obama stated that he wanted to ensure the Federal Government leads as a responsible consumer,” said Barbara Kyle, National Coordinator of ETBC. “Well, this is what responsible consumers are doing now - making sure their toxic e-waste goes only to recyclers who will NOT export them to developing countries for disposal and recycling, and who export used products only if they are fully functional and going for legitimate reuse. This needs to be the cornerstone of any national policy on electronics stewardship.”
The CEQ issued a request for comments on March 1, 2011, with comments due on Friday March 11. The Electronics TakeBack Coalition submitted detailed comments yesterday.
Link to letter: http://www.electronicstakeback.com/wp-content/uploads/ETBC-NRDC-Letter-to-CEQ-Sutley-March-10-2011.pdf
Link to comments: http://www.electronicstakeback.com/wp-content/uploads/ETBC-Comments-on-Federal-Task-Force-on-Electronics-Stewardship-March-9-2011.pdf