The Basel Action Network (BAN), an advocacy organization working to prevent the globalization of toxic trade, is ramping up its campaign to ensure North American “e-Stewards’ meet new, rigorous recycling standards. The U.S. is the only industrialized nation that has not ratified the Basel Convention, which controls and prohibits the dumping of toxic waste in developing countries. It exports about 80% of its e-waste offshore to countries like China, Ghana and Nigeria, where poor laborers are harmed by dangerous recycling practices.
Last November, BAN launched the transformation of its e-Steward initiative, which by early 2010 will be the continent’s first independently audited and accredited electronic waste recycling certification program conforming to the ANSI-ASQ Nation-al Accreditation Board (ANAB). “Consumers think that when they go to recycle, it’s good,” says Jim Puckett, executive director of BAN. “They need to know if the company is an e-Steward.” The 33 approved recycling companies in over 100 locations are listed at www.e-steward.org.
Under the new e-Steward certification, recyclers pledge to “forbid the dumping of toxic e-waste in developing countries, local landfills and incinerators; the use of prison labor to process e-waste; and the unauthorized release of private data contained in discarded computers.” Puckett says BAN is using the carrot-and-stick approach for e-cyclers. “We’re giving the certified e-Stewards big kudos on report cards and special status for e-Steward enterprises,” he says.