Friday, April 16, 2010

Basel Action Network Launches Electronics Recycling Program

Apr 15: The Basel Action Network (BAN), the group that first documented the dumping of toxic electronic waste in China and Africa, announced the official launch of the world's first global e-waste recycler certification and the first such program backed by environmental organizations and major corporations alike. The accredited, third-party audited certification program has not only been endorsed by Greenpeace USA, the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Electronics TakeBack Coalition and 68 other environmental organizations but has also drawn the support of major corporate "e-Stewards Enterprises" including: Apollo Group, Inc.; Bank of America; Capitol One Financial Corp.; Ind. Distributors of Electronics Assoc.; Nemours Foundation; Premier, Inc.; Premier Farnell; Resource Media; Samsung; Sprout Creation; Stokes Lawrence; and Wells Fargo.
    The program should not be confused with a competing program from U.S. EPA and the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. (ISRI). On March 25, ISRI announced that its board laid out "a roadmap addressing the growing problem of the improper export of end-of-life electronic scrap." The Board voted unanimously to approve what they called "a new, aggressive policy to protect health, the environment and worker safety" which they signaled that ISRI members are behind efforts to stem possible health and environmental hazards that occur when e-scrap is not exported responsibly. ISRI said the Board's decision reinforces environmental, health and worker safety standards that closely track the EPA's Responsible Recycling (R2) program [See WIMS 3/25/10].
    On March 10, 2010, WIMS reported that a release from U.S. EPA regarding its sponsored R2 electronic recycling certification program did not mention what some consider to be a more restrictive and competing international certification program from the Basel Action Network (BAN) [See WIMS 3/10/10]. The EPA release indicated that through "a brand new electronics recycling certification program," the Agency "is taking steps to ensure that electronics recyclers adhere to highly protective standards for workers and the environment in processing pre-owned electronics. This new certification process also means that recycled materials will not be shipped overseas without the consent of the designated country." EPA Regional Administrator Shawn Garvin said, "This new e-cycling certification program will take the guesswork out of choosing a responsible recycler." However, the two competing programs, that are just now getting underway, are certain to cause confusion for the public, recyclers, and manufacturers.
    The "e-Stewards Standard," created by BAN with the advice of industry leaders and health and environmental specialists is the major feature of the program. It calls for recyclers to eliminate exports of hazardous e-wastes to developing countries; to halt the dumping of such wastes in municipal landfills or incinerators, and to cease the use of captive prison populations to manage toxic e-wastes. It also calls for strict protection of customer's private data and occupational health safeguards to ensure that workers in recycling plants are not exposed to toxic dusts and fumes.
    As an indication of the conflicts between the BAN program and the EPA R2 program, currently there are about 50 e-Stewards Recyclers, each of which has passed a rigorous internal review by BAN as a preliminary step to full certification. All are regarded as responsible recyclers, and each has committed to becoming fully certified by September 2011. BAN announced the names of its first fully certified companies which have passed additional, independent audits conducted by accredited certifying bodies. The first BAN Certified e-Stewards Recyclers are: Newport Computer Services, Inc. (one US location); Redemtech (all 4 US locations)
WeRecycle! (one US location). However, under the EPA R2 program only three companies nationwide have received its new "Responsible Recycling Practices Certification" designation  and include: E-structors, Inc. of Elkridge, MD; TechTurn of Austin, TX; and Waste Management of Minnesota.
    Additionally the BAN program recognizes three accredited certifying bodies including: AQA International LLC, Orion Registrar Inc., and SAI Global; while under the EPA program recyclers must apply for certification to either SGS or Perry Johnson Registrars.
    BAN reports that there are an additional twelve companies that are next in line, having contracted with certifying bodies to begin the process. The next-in-line companies are: A greenSpan Computer Recycling; California Electronic Asset Recovery (CEAR); CloudBlue; Creative Recycling Solutions; eGreen IT Solutions; Glezco (Mexico); Materials Processing Corporation; Metech; Nextend; Regency Technologies; Surplus Exchange; and Universal Recycling Technologies.
    Access a release from BAN (click here). Access the e-Stewards website for complete details on certification and related information (click here). Access a March 10 release from EPA with links to related program information (click here). Access ISRI's Electronics Recycling website for additional details (click here).