Response to the GAO Report

Groups have been reporting for years that electronic waste has been exported out of the United States and dumped in other countries. SVTC’s recent investigation is just one more piece of evidence.

But probably one of the most damning pieces of evidence came out today with the report released by the U.S’s General Accounting Office (GAO). The report basically takes the EPA to task.

The report mirrors what Chintan and SVTC documented in India. According to the report, “Recent surveys made on behalf of the United Nations found that used electronics exported from the United States to many Asian countries are dismantled under unsafe conditions, using methods like open-air incineration and acid baths to extract metals such as copper and gold.”

When we spoke to one official in India, he stated to us that the shipment of electronic waste from the U.S. was a violation of their law as they had ratified the Basel Convention (the U.S. has not).

And yet, we know it happens. India ranks 6th on the California Department of Toxic Substance Control’s list of countries that receive CRT monitors from California.

Although the GAO does not call for an end to the exportation of electronic waste, SVTC does advocate a complete ban. It’s more straightforward to ban it outright than to qualify the types of waste that can and cannot be exported.

Corporations need to work to invest in recyclers in the U.S. and to help with infrastructures in other countries to ensure that they can dismantle their own electronics in a safer way.

The answer seems simple to me, the U.S. needs to be responsible for our own toxic e-waste and be sure that we protect those who dismantle it, it seems win, win to me. This would create jobs for people inside our own country and keeping it here would encourage the industry to be more responsible when it comes to reducing toxins and making them easier to recycle.

– Lauren Ornelas (Campaign Director, SVTC)

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