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Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

E-Stewards commit to no more dumping in developing countries

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There is enough concern about what happens to old computers that even the top cop talks about it.

This is a press release from Free Geek – Activists and Free Geek Vancouver join forces to create certification program for responsible electronics recycling

If you have a computer, someday some or all of it is going to get replaced. Do you take care how you dispose of it? Of course you do – but Free Geek can actually do something to ensure that it is reused before it gets recycled. And there are some places that will actually charge you a fee, for example to take a working crt screen. Though in my own defence I pointed out to one such place that since they were almost certain to resell it – when I came through the door the crt was still in the back of my car and they tried to sell me one – at which point they graciously agreed to take it off my hands for nothing.

VANCOUVER—The Basel Action Network and the Electronics TakeBack Coalition
joined with 32 electronics recyclers including Free Geek Vancouver today to
announce the development of the e-Stewards Initiative — a new certification
program for North America’s most responsible e-waste recyclers.

The e-Steward Initiative will become the first independently audited and
accredited electronic waste recycler certification program forbidding the
dumping of toxic e-waste in developing countries, local landfills and
incinerators; the use of prison labor; and the unauthorized release of
private data.

“Unfortunately today, most of those companies calling themselves electronics
recyclers are scammers,” said Sarah Westervelt, e-Stewards project
coordinator at the Basel Action Network (BAN) in Seattle. “They simply load
up containers of old computers and ship them off to China or Africa. By
choosing an e-Steward recycler, consumers and large businesses are assured
that their old computers and TVs will be safely managed, and not simply
tossed into a local landfill, processed unsafely by prison laborers, or
exported to developing countries.”

The e-Stewards announcement follows Sunday’s exposé on CBS’ 60 Minutes;
the CBC’s recently aired Electronic Dumping Ground; and a recent episode
of the French Canadian Program Panorama, Electronic Waste: The Hidden Face
of Recycling
. These programs reveal that computers given to many
recyclers in the United States and Canada are likely to be dumped in China
or Africa, where e-waste is causing immeasurable environmental and health
problems.

“Truly responsible recyclers in the US and Canada face unfair competition
from thousands of unethical, so-called ‘waste recyclers’ in North America
that would more accurately be called ‘waste shippers,'” said Ifny Lachance,
cofounder of e-Steward Free Geek Vancouver. “We strongly support a
certified, audited program to separate legitimate recyclers from low-road
operators. Recyclers should be considered guilty until they can prove
themselves innocent.””

The e-Stewards already include 32 companies in 92 locations that have been
qualified by BAN. Today, BAN announced that by early 2010 the program will
feature an ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB) certification system
with third-party auditing. The funding to create this robust certification
program was provided by 14 recycling companies designated as e-Steward
Founders.

E-Steward Free Geek Vancouver was founded in November 2006 as a community
technology centre and ethical recycler. Its volunteers help test, refurbish
and dismantle unwanted computer equipment donated by the public.

“The e-Stewards project is a response to the failure of government and
industry to act as responsible global citizens in the age of information
technology,” said Jim Puckett, BAN executive director. “It is also a
wonderful example of how industry leaders and activists can move mountains
when they work together — in this case, move mountains of e-waste to truly
responsible recyclers only.”

Written by Stephen Rees

November 14, 2008 at 7:09 am

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