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Scrap Industry e-Waste Exports Claims Sadly Mistaken

Scrap Industry e-Waste Exports Claims Sadly Mistaken

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Published by: mary eng on Mar 23, 2013
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03/23/2013

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SCRAPINDUSTRYE-WASTEEXPORTCLAIMS“SADLYMISTAKEN”
BANCallsISRIElectronicsRecyclingStudyInterpretationIrresponsible
Forimmediaterelease:
Seattle,WA.October17,2011.
ArecentclaimbytheInstituteofScrapRecyclingIndustriesthattheirrecentlycommissionedstudyshowsthate-wasteexportationfromtheUStodevelopingcountriesisnolongeraproblem,is“sadlymistaken”accordingtothetoxictradewatchdog,BaselActionNetwork(BAN).BANclaimsthatISRIfirstobtainedbadlycompromiseddatafromthestudyandthenmanipulatedthattomaketheircaseratherthanreportwhatisobvioustoeveryoneinthebusinessandinjournalismwhohasgonetoChina,Nigeria,India,Ghanaandotherglobale-wastedumpinggrounds.
“TheISRI-sponsoredreportdoesn’tpassthesmelltest,” 
saysJimPuckett,ExecutiveDirectorofBAN.
“Closeanalysisrevealsittobeevenworsethanacaseofgarbagein, garbageout.ISRIputsitsfingersonthescaleofeventheflaweddata.Theresultingconclusionsarebothinaccurateandirresponsible.” 
Thereport,paidforbyISRI,butconductedbytheInternationalDataCorporation,isbasedonavoluntarysurveyof182companies,mostlyrecyclers.Partofthesurveyaskedrecyclersiftheyexporte-waste,butaccordingtoBAN,anyvoluntarysurveyaskingrespondentstoreportshamefulorillegalactivitywillnotproducereliabledata.
“Itslikeaskingpeopleiftheycheatontheirtaxesandexpectinganaccurateresult,”
saidPuckett.
“IfitwerethateasytheEPAwouldnotbespendingmorethanamilliondollarsrightnowtotrytoquantifyvolumesandwasteflowsfromtheUS,andtheextensiveGovernmentAccountabilityOffice(GAO)report(2008)wouldhaveprovidedthefiguresatthattime.” 
Butevenassumingtheresponseswereallhonest,BANnotesthatISRIconvenientlymisinterpretstheIDCdata.ISRI’sEricHarrispresentedthesurveyresultsthatstatedthatonly20percentclaimedexportand“78.66%ofrespondentssaytheiroutputwastraded,soldand/ortransferredwithintheUS–andthat“muchofthisoutputisfurthersoldintotheUSandglobalmarketplace.,”Hismistakenconclusionwasthat“electronicsarerecycledinAmerica,not‘dumped’overseas.”Whathedidn’tmention,andwhatISRI’ssubsequentpressreleasefailstonote,isthatthe78.66%couldeasilyincludeexportsthatmoveviaUSmiddlemen.
 
MostexportingrecyclersusebrokersthathaveUSaddresses,orselltoanothercompanywhothenusesbrokers.DavidDaoud,theIDCauthorofthereport,confirmedthatanynumberoftheserespondentscouldusesuchbrokerstoexporte-wasteandstillremaininthis78.66%sliceofthepie.ThispracticeiscommonandwasmostrecentlydemonstratedinthecaseofInterconSolutionswho,accordingtoBAN,usedbrokersandagentstoexportthematerialtoHongKong,whereauthoritiesturnedbacktheshipments.Soasmuchas100%ofthe78.66%couldhavebeenexportedand,addingtothatthe20percentalreadyclaimedasexported,thestudycanalsobeinterpretedasupto100%ofrespondents’materialwasexported.Further,whenitcomestoprocessingactivity,ISRI’spressreleasereliesonmore“smokeandmirrors.”Thereleasereportsthat70%ofend-of-lifeelectronicsisprocessedintheUSandsoldathomeorintheglobalmarketplaceas“commoditygradescrap.”However,“commoditygradescrap”isnotameaningfultermwhenitcomestojudginghowmuchhazardouse-wasteisbeingexportedtodevelopingcountries,mostofwhomareboundtothedefinitionsfoundintheBaselConvention.ISRIinventedscrapspecifications,buttheyaremeaninglesswhenitcomestointernationaltraderulessuchastheBaselConvention.MuchofISRI’s“commoditygradescrap”canbeconsideredhazardouswasteunderinternationallaw.Itisclearthatthedatahasverylittlestatisticalvalueforderivingvalidconclusionsabouttheconcernathand–theexportofhazardouse-wastetodevelopingcountriesfromtheUnitedStates.Whilethereisnoreliabletradedataone-waste,thereisverysignificantanecdotalevidence(seeAppendixbelow)indicatingaveryseriousexportproblemremains,anditwouldbeveryfoolishtoignoretheproblemjustbecausewelackthenumbers.
“Ifadoctorweretoobserveamassivehemorrhagingofapatientbroughttothehospital,hewouldnotwaittoactuntilhehadthenumbersofhowmanylitersofbloodwerelost,” 
saidPuckett.
“Theresponsiblethingtodowouldbetotakeemergencyactiontostaunchtheflow.ItisabundantlyapparentthatweneedUSlegislationtoendthisdespicableglobaldumping.
BANandmanyenvironmentalorganizationshavejoinedDell,Apple,HPandBestBuyinsupportingtheResponsibleElectronicsRecyclingActnowbeforeCongresstoprohibitexportofhazardouse-wastetodevelopingcountries.
Formoreinformationcontact:
JimPuckett,Tel:206-652-5555,email:jpuckett@ban.orgMikeEnberg,Tel:206-652-5555,email:menberg@ban.org

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