Wednesday, August 18, 2010

EPA Chief cites the e-Waste Problem as one of the US’s 6 Global Environmental Priorities

EPA Chief Administrator Lisa Jackson declared yesterday that preventing e-waste and its irresponsible management was one of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s top six newly announced global priorities. The other five priorities were reducing carbon emissions, improving air quality, improving water quality, reducing toxics exposures and building stronger institutional frameworks. Her comments came at yesterday evening’s public reception to launch the 17th Session of the Commission on Environmental Cooperation, a body created with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to mitigate environmental impacts of trade between Canada, Mexico and the United States.

“We applaud the EPA and Lisa Jackson on her recognition that the toxic threat of e-waste is one of the most serious environmental concerns of our time,” said Jim Puckett, Executive Director of the Basel Action Network, who attended the session. “The amounts of e-waste we are creating is staggering, and then the practice of sweeping the techno-trash out the back door to developing countries is shameful.”

According to BAN, the first order of business is to pass legislation banning the export of this new form of toxic waste. Secondly, the environmentalists call for all manufacturers to set a date for becoming toxic free and refusing to ever again use toxic inputs.

Jackson’s announcement comes on the heels of a formal recognition by the EPA of the e-Stewards® Certification for electronics recyclers. E-Stewards is the only certification for e-waste recyclers that is consistent with international law and forbids the most egregious current practices of electronics recyclers such as exporting toxic e-waste to developing countries, using prison labor, and dumping toxics in municipal landfills. The e-Stewards Certification is also the only such program with the backing of over 70 environmental organizations and major companies like Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Samsung.

“We are excited and relieved that, eight years from the time BAN first showed the world pictures of the devastation in China from US e-waste exports, it is beginning to look like we as a nation are finally resolved to take responsibility and solve this crisis,” observes Puckett.


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