Industry Groups Clash Over E-Waste Strategy

Date: July 24, 2011

Source: News Room

The Obama administration's desire to ratify an international agreement to control imports and exports of hazardous wastes has drawn opposite responses from two industry groups that differ over the export of electronic waste. A national strategy developed by an interagency task force -- comprising the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the General Services Administrator (GSA) and the White House Council on Environmental Quality -- said it would support ratification of the Basel Convention on the control of trans-boundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal but it made no mention of a later Basel Ban Amendment that would prohibit exports of hazardous waste. The US signed the basic convention in 1990 but has never passed legislation to implement it. The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) supports the interagency approach and feels that the Basel Ban Amendment is "a horrible idea," because it has not been adopted by enough countries and would interfere with the market for valuable recycled commodities. Moreover, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) guides the proper handling of wastes. But Jim Puckett, executive director of the Basel Action Network, said it was "shameful" that the administration would support the export of toxic wastes to developing countries from developed countries. He said RCRA would not be sufficient in that it exempts almost all forms of hazardous waste that are destined for recycling.

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