BAN responds to ISRI survey results
By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling
The Basel Action Network has issued a strong response to comments made by Eric Harris, director of government and international affairs for the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, at the recently concluded E-Scrap Conference. Harris was presenting findings of an ISRI-sponsored survey of the electronics recycling industry conducted by the research firm International Data Corp.
Specifically, BAN objects to Harris' assertion that the majority of electronic scrap is processed in the United States.
"Any voluntary survey asking the respondents to report shameful or illegal activity will not produce reliable data and the export of hazardous electronic waste to developing countries is both shameful and illegal. The respondents will under-report exporting," says BAN's e-Stewards enterprise program manager Mike Enberg.
"But let’s imagine, for a moment, that the numbers presented are accurate," continues Enberg. "The problem is that the details – in the IDC report itself – belie ISRI's conclusions. While the survey asserted 'electronics are recycled in America, not dumped overseas,' what the presentation failed to mention is that IDC reports 79 percent of respondents say their output was traded, sold and/or transferred within the U.S. – and that 'much of this output is further sold into the U.S. and global marketplace.'"
BAN also points out that many brokers in the export business have U.S. addresses, which could have skewed the survey data. Additionally, it says that the term "commodity grade scrap," which ISRI says describes electronics sold on the global marketplace, is an undefined term and includes hazardous material.
According to the environmental watchdog, accurate data on the total volume of e-waste exported does not exist yet, apart from anecdotal data. Because such data does not exist, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has partnered with the United Nations University to track global shipments.