U.S.’ practice of dumping e-wastes on Asia is a serious environmental hazard and irresponsible short cut that leads to a number of major problems ranging from environmental hazards and human rights abuses to digital security breaches, says John Shegerian, chairman and CEO of Electronic Recyclers International (ERI).
Citing a new report from environmental watchdog group Basel Action Network (BAN), Shegerian reiterated that unethical and illegal shipping of e-waste abroad is a problem that is spiraling out of control and in turn leads to a host of other potentially devastating issues.
BAN’s new report, titled Scam Recycling: e-Dumping on Asia by US Recyclers, revealed startling data gathered by secretly planting GPS trackers into 205 old printers and monitors and then delivering them to US charities and recyclers.
The effort revealed that of those that were handed over to American electronics recyclers, 40 percent did not get recycled in the U.S. as expected by customers, but were instead exported to highly-polluting and unsafe operations in developing countries — mostly in Asia.
BAN’s report also directly uncovered that 75 US recycling entities were illegally shipping e-waste to developing nations.
“Responsible recycling costs money, but it is an investment in the environment, the people of this planet…and in long-term data protection. The unbridled shipping of our electronics overseas has greatly contributed to the wholesale liquidation of our environment, our national security and the security of the corporations and individuals of the United States,” Shegerian added.
The exported devices tracked by BAN made their way to Hong Kong, Mainland China, Taiwan, Pakistan, Mexico, Thailand, Canada, and one each in United Arab Emirates, Togo, Kenya, Cambodia, and the Dominican Republic. MIT’s Sensable City Labs worked in partnership with BAN to produce an interactive online map to show the pathways of all of the 205 trackers.
“Kudos to the Basel Action Network for exposing this important issue in real time,” added Shegerian. “Unfortunately, we believe that what BAN has revealed with this report is just the tip of the iceberg. The fact that many so-called recyclers continue to ship their e-waste to third world countries for inadequate processing instead of responsibly recycling domestically is a huge problem that’s getting worse.”
“At this point, it’s truly the shame of America on an environmental level while also putting Americans’ privacy and security at risk at the same time. Something significant needs to happen at the federal government level to stop this now,” Shegerian said.