E-Waste Rises to Top of EPA Priority List
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) brought electronic waste, known as e-waste, to the forefront of world environmental priorities at this week’s meeting of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation in Guanajuato, Mexico. In a memo, Lisa Jackson included e-waste along with four other issues to the agency’s top priorities.
Regarding e-waste, the EPA memo stated: "The electronics that provide us with convenience often end up discarded in developing countries where improper disposal can threaten local people and the environment. EPA recognizes this urgent concern and will work with international partners to address the issues of e-waste. In the near-term, EPA will focus on ways to improve the design, production, handling, reuse, recycling, exporting and disposal of electronics."
One proposed solution to the e-waste issue is the certification for responsible e-waste recycling being developed by several groups, including the Basel Action Network. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently endorsed the Basel Convention as a means of mitigating the issues of e-waste throughout the world.
Large manufacturers are addressing the e-waste issue. Acer, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Sony Ericsson earlier in 2010 called for the European Union to ban certain toxic materials used in electronics that pollute when burned or improperly disposed. Burning of discarded electronics is used by e-waste harvesters in developing countries to extract precious metals inside.