Press Release

NRDC Endorses New Certification for Safe, Ethical Electronic Waste Recycling

e-Steward® Recyclers Will Not Dump your e-Waste in Developing Countries

Kate Slusark, 212-727-4592

NEW YORK (February 9, 2010) -- The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) today announced its endorsement of the first-ever certification program for electronics recycling created jointly by the environmental community and business leaders. The new e-Stewards Certification and Standard, held by the Basel Action Network (BAN), is seen as essential to stem the tide of hazardous old computers, TVs, monitors and other electronic waste currently flooding African and Asian countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, India, Pakistan and China.

Today, NRDC is joining with BAN to call on all electronics recyclers to become e-Steward Certified recyclers, and at the same time is asking all businesses to become designated “e-Steward Enterprises” by agreeing to give priority to e-Steward recyclers for their old electronic assets.

“This initiative is sorely needed,” said NRDC Senior Scientist Dr. Allen Hershkowitz. “Many e-waste recyclers claim to be green, but in reality they rely on unsafe and ecologically damaging methods like dumping millions of tons of toxic waste each year in China, India and Africa. E-Stewards provide businesses and consumers with a first-of-a-kind seal to identify the truly responsible recyclers.”

In 2008, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report roundly criticizing the US EPA for not doing more to promulgate and enforce rules to control the e-waste trade. Unfortunately, to date little has changed and a market-based solution is seen as more necessary than ever.

The e-Steward Certification is a fully accredited certification that relies on independent, third-party auditors to verify safe and ethical e-waste disposal. It is awarded to companies that recycle electronics without using practices that far too many in U.S. electronics recycling industry rely upon -- the use of municipal landfills and incinerators, the export to developing countries, or U.S. prison labor for disposing of toxic old electronics.

Businesses that agree to make best efforts to use e-Steward recyclers will be rewarded as designated e-Stewards Enterprises. The first global companies to receive these e-Steward Enterprise designations as well as the first Certified e-Steward recyclers will be announced in March. Already there are about 50 North American recyclers that are considered “Pledged e-Stewards” which have been vetted by BAN and are licensed and committed to becoming certified in the next 18 months. These companies include some of the largest electronics recyclers in North America. Click here for a complete list. Due to the widespread fraudulent or unscrupulous exportation and irresponsible practices now plaguing the electronics recycling industry, consumers are urged to use only these Pledged e-Steward recyclers.

“NRDC recognized that we have finally created a principled yet practical solution to e-waste recycling that environmentalists, businesses and consumers can all embrace,” said Jim Puckett, Executive Director of the Basel Action Network. “We are thrilled to receive NRDC’s coveted endorsement in the lead-up to our global launch.”

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