In the wake of a recent investigation by the Department of Justice’s Inspector General that found federal prisons exposing inmates to toxic heavy metals and exporting hazardous wastes to developing countries, the Basel Action Network (BAN) is calling for businesses and consumers to only use e-Stewards qualified recyclers.
BAN said the e-Stewards Standard was created by the environmental community after a government led effort to create a standard for responsible recycling failed to ban the export of hazardous waste or the use of prison labor to manage sensitive electronic waste as well as exports to developing countries.
The report,”Review of Federal Prison Industries’ Electronic-Waste Recycling Program” (PDF), found that federal prisons, operating under UNICOR, exported e-waste to developing countries, and that UNICOR staff were involved in cover-ups, money laundering, theft, fraud and other charges.
The export of hazardous electronic waste to developing countries is contrary to decisions made by the international community at the Basel Convention, an international treaty under the United Nations Environment Program for which BAN serves as a watchdog organization.
To date, the U.S. government has not ratified the Basel Convention and has not supported the global decision to amend the Convention to forbid all exports of hazardous wastes to developing countries, said BAN.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s administrator Lisa Jackson recently announced that the prevention and proper management of e-waste is one of the agency’s top six newly announced global priorities.
BAN supports the passage of new House Bill 6252, introduced by Representatives Raymond Green and John Carter of Texas and Mike Thompson of California, which will ban the export of U.S. hazardous wastes to developing countries.