Environmental Groups Back Out of E-Waste Talks, Citing Lack of Progress

Environmental Groups Back Out of E-Waste Talks, Citing Lack of Progress

The Electronics TakeBack Coalition and the Basel Action Network announced today that they're withdrawing from an EPA-led committee to establish e-waste recycling standards after noting that the proposed results will fail to meet their three basic criteria for responsible recycling.

The two groups are withdrawing from the EPA's Responsible Recycling Practices for Electronics Recyclers project, which is commonly known as R2; the project aims to develop voluntary standards for electronics recyclers that ensure that electronic waste is collected, recycled and disposed in ways that are not harmful to the planet and human health.

Earlier this summer, BAN published a critique of the R2 standards, and two weeks ago the U.S. General Accounting Office released a report broadly condemning the EPA for its failure to enact e-waste rules, and for almostly completely failing to enforce the only e-waste rules on the books.

"The current R2 standards won't actually change the problems that the GAO report outlined, because R2 doesn't require certified recyclers to prove that their e-waste isn't exported to these countries without their permission," said Barbara Kyle, the national coordinator for the Electronics TakeBack Coalition. "What's the point of having a 'responsible recycling' standard if you don't deal with the biggest problem plaguing this industry?"

The three basic standards that both environmental groups agree are baseline priorities for responsible recycling are that toxic e-waste should not be exported for disposal if the recipient countries have laws against such imports; that e-waste shouldn't be incinerated to acquire the valuable metals within; and that e-waste should not be sent to prison recycling programs, whether in the U.S. or internationally.

For more of the latest news on e-waste strategies, visit GreenerComputing's e-waste & recycling section.