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Developing countries fight efforts to exclude e-waste from trade controls

Developing countries fight efforts to exclude e-waste from trade controls

May 8, 2013

imagesCAUBB1DDElectronics manufacturers attempt to create loopholes to exclude repairable e-waste from Basel Convention trade control procedures.

Developing countries are opposing attempts by electronic equipment manufacturers from industrialised countries to make repairable e-waste exempt from trade controls designed to prevent the exportation of hazardous waste.

The manufacturers were represented by the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) and industrialised powers including the EU, US, Japan and Canada; which refused to agree to a draft guideline presented at the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention over a Guideline on Transboundary Movement of e-waste in Geneva.

The guideline proposed that “used equipment that is not tested and functional would be considered waste and, if hazardous, would trigger the Basel Convention control procedures requiring at a minimum that all exports of hazardous electronic waste be notified to importing countries, and receive consent prior to shipment”.

It is reported that the industrialised countries wanted the guideline to include major exemptions regarding equipment going for repair, claiming that without lifting the current hazardous waste controls, reuse of used equipment would be inhibited.

However, developing countries argued that by doing so they would be unable to prevent a disproportionate burden of the world’s toxic hardware from being transferred to developing countries after toxic parts were discarded, and that countries would be able to use the “repair” claim to justify dumping with little evidence that the equipment was in fact repairable.

“Already, developing countries cannot control the junk electronic computers, faxes, printers and TVs flooding into their countries from North America and Europe, all in the name of ‘helping the poor’ and ‘bridging the digital divide’,” said Jim Puckett, Executive Director of the Basel Action Network. “Industrial countries are treating the rest of the world as a digital dump. It is no wonder developing countries do not appreciate industry proposals to make matters worse.”

Puckett added that the repairing of electronics “is a good thing of course”, but expressed concerns that “repair can generate wastes when parts are replaced. And without controls, anyone can always make a claim that anything is repairable no matter what the intention. Thus in no way can we just blow kisses and say bon voyage to shipments of e-waste, based on empty repair promises. We still need the international rules provided by the Basel Convention.”

Categories : Around the Industry

Tags : E-waste Environment

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