NEW YORK Developing
nations have successfully fought off certain Basel Convention
policy changes aimed at regulating shipments of electronic
recycling products to their countries.
Several countries rejected a
move by electronic equipment makers represented by the
Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) and developed
regions, such as the European Union and North America, "to
create loopholes that would allow repairable electronic waste
to be exempt from the international Basel Convention hazardous
waste trade control procedures," Seattle-based environmental
advocacy group Basel Action Network (BAN) said May 8.
"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, " BAN executive
director Jim Puckett said. "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."
According to the failed draft
guideline, put forth this past week at the 11th Conference of
the Parties to the Basel Convention in Geneva, any used
equipment not tested and functional would be considered waste.
If found to contain hazardous substances, Basel Convention
control procedures would have been triggered, requiring
thatat a minimumimporting countries be notified of
all exports of hazardous electronic waste and provide consent
prior to shipment. Industrialized countries wouldnt agree
to the proposal if it didnt include exemptions for
equipment destined for repair.
"Industry had argued that
without lifting the established hazardous waste trade controls,
reuse of used equipment would be inhibited. But they failed to
explain how they would prevent a disproportionate burden of the
worlds toxic hardware from being transferred to
developing countries when toxic parts were discarded, and how
they would prevent this repair claim from being
used by any and every trader to justify dumping," BAN said.
While electronics repair is
good, it "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," Puckett said.
"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 (of) the Basel
It would be better for the
environment if manufacturers tried to create nontoxic
components, BAN said.