Create a mandatory certification process for electronic waste recyclers in the United States.
This petition had 50 supporters
In the United States an organization called “Solving the E-Waste Problem (StEP Initiative.”) This organization has predicted with a group of scientists that by 2017 the world will produce seventy-two million tons more electronic waste than 2014. In 2007 the EPA created a rule that prohibits companies from exporting monitors and televisions outside the U.S. without approval from the EPA. The issue at hand is that there is no accountability. Quoting the EPA’s website: “Unfortunately not every electronic recycler follows environmentally sound recycling practices; however, responsible electronics recyclers and refurbishes can now become certified by demonstrating to an accredited, independent third party that they meet available standards on responsible recycling practices.”
All over the world different countries have different definitions of what e-waste actually includes. In the U.S. there are multiple items that can be considered as e-waste: audio and video equipment, computers, computer accessories, batteries, televisions. This is only the beginning of a long list of various technological products that require special recycling.
Why would a company want to export their electronic waste? Recycling electronics is expensive, labor intensive, and requires safety equipment and regulations. The problem concerning illegally exporting electronic waste is that the electronic waste is sent to underdeveloped countries. In 2010, of the 258 million tones of e-waste sent to be recycled, the percent actually recycled is disturbing: only sixty-six percent. An example of a country that has suffered from the developing black market of e-waste is China, in which it is reported that eight million tons of e-waste is smuggled each year. This issue concerning electronic waste should be a huge concern because it is the “fastest growing municipal waste stream in America.” according to the EPA.
The main reason the EPA should be monitoring electronic waste more closely is due to the dangers of improper recycling. The U.S. has illegally sent electronic waste to India, China, Africa, and other countries. The places e-waste is typically sent in a country is an area suffering from poverty. The people take piles of electronic waste and either pick through it for a mere dollar a day, or burn the electronics to extract metals by hand. This is terrible for their health because of the toxins. The toxins are also terrible for the environment. Another method includes people burning plastic and smelling the fumes to sort through the most valuable materials. The human health concerns aligned with the environmental impact is a growing concern.
To fully understand the problem, one must understand that electronic waste is affecting their community too. If someone accidently throws away e-waste it will leak toxic materials in the landfill. Additionally, any U.S. citizen is just as responsible as the government to help in the movement towards reducing electronic waste. To help learn about the proper ways you can recycle electronics in your community and spread the word. Reduce your amount of technology upgrades or even just limit the purchasing of any electronics at all.
The other action to aid the effort towards a healthier, e-waste free environment is to pressure companies to develop longer lasting technology, while decreasing the amount of hazardous materials. From 1997 to 2005 the average lifespan of computers decreased from six to two years. For a more current example one could examine an iPhone, a highly popular cellular device worldwide. An Apple iPhone has a battery that will last for 400 chargers, leaving it with an estimated two-year life expectancy.
Overall, as a dedication to our planet and for a clearer conscious, please sign this online petition to require the EPA to create a mandatory certification process for electronic waste recyclers in the United States. It is the start to the future of possible e-waste international tracking, the start to new sustainable technology products, and the beginning of dismantling the disconnection we have from our waste and its impact.
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