. "Don't Toss E-Waste onto Curb: Environmentalists. "
India - West
Apr. 2010,Ethnic NewsWatch (ENW), ProQuest. Web. 21 Feb. 2011.
Copyright India West Apr 9, 2010
Editor's note: India-West staff reporter Stmita Sohrabji received a World Affairs
Journalism fellowship from the Washington, D.C.-based International Center for
Journalists to report on electronic waste dismantling in India. Her first story (I-W, Mar.
19) examined working conditions for e-waste recyclers in four Indian slums. Her second
story focused on proposed Indian legislation to regulate the industry, along with private
sector and NGO approaches to managing e-waste (I-W, Apr. 2). This third and final story
looks at how consumers can keep their e-waste out of the developing world This project
was funded by the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.
More than 80 percent of used electronics collected in U.S. recycling drives ends up in
the developing world, where it is disposed of by the poor who unknowingly expose
themselves to toxins, charge environmentalists.
Collectors cart away old electronics from residential curbs, and then sell to middlemen
who ship the material overseas-mainly to India, China and Nigeria-where it is mined for
precious metals in crude, health-hazardous operations (I-W, Mar. 19).
"If they're taking the material away for free, it's likely getting dumped overseas," said
Sheila Davis, executive director of the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition.
California in 2004 began charging consumers an electronics recycling fee
proper disposal, and reimburses approved recyclers to collect e-waste. But dealers will
nevertheless often sell overseas to brokers who offer a higher rate, Davis told India-
"States don't have a lot of jurisdiction over international trade shipments. There's a
tremendous loophole because the U.S. hasn't signed the Basel treaty," stated Davis.
The 1989 Basel Convention, an international treaty which prohibits the transfer of
hazardous waste from rich nations to poor countries, has not been ratified by the U.S.
All large computer manufacturing companies - including Dell, Hewlett Packard, Apple,
IBM - have take-back schemes in place,
but there's not a lot of transparency in what
happens to electronics once they're returned,
asserted Davis, noting that all use
contractors to recycle their products, leading to vague accountability.
The U.S. currently has no ewaste export laws, which gives the Environmental Protection