Just days after congressional investigators slammed companies for shipping e-waste overseas (and the feds for failing to crack down on them), a major U.S. recycler today vowed to stop the practice. Waste Management, based in Houston, today announced that it would not send hazardous electronic garbage to developing countries for recycling.
E-waste includes the remains of computers and other electronic devices, which often contain toxic heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury. U.S. consumers and companies toss about two million tons (four billion pounds) of e-waste annually, according to the EPA. Some of this rubbish is then shipped to developing countries, where workers, many without proper protection, are exposed to dangerous chemicals while stripping out valuable metals such as copper.
Waste Management announced today that it had signed the "Electronics Recycler’s Pledge of True Stewardship," a document developed by the Seattle-based watchdog enviro group The Basel Action Network. The pledge requires companies to get rid of electronic components in an ecologically responsible way, not dump it in landfills or send it to be disassembled by prisoners or workers overseas and to document where the waste ends up.
(Image from iStockphoto/LyaC)