Know Thy E-Waste Recycler

Green groups are working to make sure old computers don"t end up in landfills, or polluting third world countries.

Environmentalists and electronics recyclers joined forces last week to announce the launch of the e-Stewards Initiative, the first independently audited and accredited certification program for North American e-waste recyclers. In order to be certified under the program, electronics recyclers will have to demonstrate that they do not dump so-called "e-waste" (electronic waste, such as old televisions, computers and appliances) in landfills or incinerators. The standards also prohibit certified companies from using prison labor or releasing private data and personal information without prior authorization.

"Unfortunately today, most companies calling themselves electronics recyclers are scammers," says Sarah Westervelt, e-Stewards project coordinator at Seattle's Basel Action Network (BAN), one of the nonprofits behind the new initiative. "They simply load up containers of old computers and ship them off to China or Africa," she said, adding that by choosing an e-Steward recycler, consumers and businesses can rest assured that their discarded electronics will be safely and responsibly managed.

"The genuinely responsible recyclers in North America face unfair competition from thousands of unethical, so-called "waste recyclers" that would more accurately be called "waste shippers,"" says John S. Shegerian, CEO of Electronic Recyclers Inc., one of 32 e-waste recyclers to sign on as founders of the new certification program. "Our planet's glut of e-waste is no longer a problem we can sweep under the rug—consumers and businesses who want to play a role in the solution need to know which organizations recycle e-waste responsibly and appropriately."

SOURCE: Basel Action Network