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Whistleblowers are invited to report a variety of poor recycling practices in the e-scrap industry. | GaudiLab/Shutterstock

The Basel Action Network this week rolled out a confidential reporting website seeking to make it easier for observers to report poor e-scrap management practices, such as questionable exports of devices and e-plastics, data security lapses and problematic storage or disposal.

Seattle-based BAN on July 8 launched the BAN Whistleblower Portal, framing it as a response to recent high-profile e-scrap export cases that defy international waste trade regulations. In late June, Malaysian customs officials reported more than 100 recently imported shipping containers were inspected and found to contain e-scrap they said was illegally imported from the U.S. BAN had flagged the containers as likely containing end-of-life electronics, and it had called on the customs agency to inspect them.

The inspection came at a time when the Basel Convention, a global treaty regulating the movement of waste materials around the world, is increasing scrutiny on e-scrap and its related components. In 2021, the plastics contained in end-of-life electronics were brought into a category of waste materials requiring additional regulatory compliance. And in January 2025, the convention will begin regulating the shipment of a wider array of end-of-life electronics.

The upcoming change is widely expected to effectively prohibit U.S. exports of most e-scrap materials to many countries, because of a Basel rule prohibiting trade of regulated materials between party-countries and non-party-countries. The U.S. is a non-party country. 

Despite increasing regulation, BAN says problematic exports are still occurring with some regularity.

In a statement, BAN Chief Operating Officer Hayley Palmer said the group has seen “a new wave of unscrupulous recyclers, waste managers and brokers that seek to use the developing world as their convenient dumping grounds in order to maximize profits at the expense of people and the planet.”

“Equally distressing is finding out how many respectable companies are willing to ignore their corporate responsibility and make use of such unethical service providers,” Palmer added.

The whistleblower portal allows employees at recycling firms or anyone else with knowledge of company practices to confidentially submit information.

“If you are witness to practices in your business or institution that are illegal or improper in the arena of waste management, including non-compliance with the law or with recycling certifications, we urge you to serve your conscience, human health and the environment by speaking out,” BAN states on the portal page.

The portal allows users to request various levels of confidentiality and to submit documents backing up their observations.

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