In a recent report (PDF), the Government Accountability Office concluded that the EPA has made little effort to curb the export of e-wastes, with much of it ending up in China, India and other countries with poor regulations, Washington Post reports.
U.S. authorities have not yet developed a national approach for handing such waste. The issue is currently addressed by a patchwork of e-waste laws enacted by 16 states and New York City. Fifteen states require manufacturers to pay the cost of recycling their products.
However, the GAO report said EPA’s enforcement is lacking. Since the cathode-ray tube rule took effect in January 2007, Hong Kong officials have intercepted and returned 26 containers of illegally exported CRTs to U.S. ports.
Existing EPA regulations focus only on CRT, and relevant U.S. hazardous waste regulations assess only how products will react in unlined U.S. landfills.
GAO posed as foreign buyers of broken CRTs in Hong Kong, India, Pakistan, and other countries; 43 U.S. companies expressed willingness to export these items. One of the companies publicly touts their exemplary environmental practices while violating the CRT rule.
UK lighting industry has also recently violated e-waste laws.
Last year, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Dell and others joined a United Nations initiative that aims to standardize world policy and legislative approaches to electronic recycling processes.