"Export for repair" at issue in Basel update

"Export for repair" at issue in Basel update

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

*UPDATE: The title of this story has been changed to clarify that the existing exemptions have not changed.

Participants at the latest Conference of Parties to the Basel Convention squared off over exports, reuse and refurbishment of electronics this week in Geneva.

A draft proposal that would have exempted non-working, but potentially repairable electronics from the Basel Convention's hazardous waste control procedures was defeated by representatives from developing countries. The exemption was part of a larger proposal to classify non-tested or non-functional equipment as waste, which if determined to be hazardous, would trigger Basel Convention control procedures. Due to the lack of agreement on the repair exemption, however, the draft guidelines were not adopted.

The "export for repair" exemption was supported by the Information Technology Industry Council, major OEMs and many repair and refurbishment advocates, who argued that an exception for equipment that could potentially be repaired and reused was necessary for residents of developing countries to gain access to low-cost computer equipment.

Opponents of the exemption argued that without procedures and monitoring in place to deal with them, the exemption would be used to ship scrap materials to developing countries where they would be irresponsibly disposed of. Critics argued that the exemption would lead to a flood of unrepairable e-scrap flowing from the developed world to the developing world and questioned why potentially repairable equipment could not be repaired in its country of origin.

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Misleading: No Change to existing "repair" allowance

Wait a minute!

Annex IX, B1110, of the existing Basel Convention, exempts export for repair.  It has been questioned whether the Ban Amendment does this, and some parties construe the footnotes on "major reassembly" differently.  But the failure to pass a clarifying amendment does not mean that the existing language disappears!