No e-waste exports from the US?

Posted on April 15, 2010  /  1 Comments

Sometime back we had an unconcluded debate on e-waste with Mr Udaya Gammanpila, then Chair of the Sri Lanka Central Environmental Authority. He said, among other things, that inter-country movement of e waste was prohibited. I countered that the Basel rules permitted transport, but imposed conditions on the movement. The debate that is discussed in the NYT article below hinges on the same issue. One party argues that all e-waste exports to developing countries should be prohibited because they cannot be sure that we will follow the rules. The other says that all efforts should be made to facilitate trade while making sure that good rules are followed everywhere.

The CEA in Sri Lanka wanted to use the enviLevy on mobiles use (an illogical eco tax if there was one) to build a factory to process e waste in Sri Lanka. I said there was not enough volume to justify such a facility and that we should export our e waste. But the government wanted the factory, for whatever reason.

In my new approach, which is to give constructive advice on whatever the government of Sri Lanka wants to do within the limits of reason, I had been thinking about how the CEA could still get a viable factory. One solution was to import e waste get the required volumes for their dream factory. Unfortunately, that option seems to be closing thanks to US do-gooders who think we can’t follow rules. Maybe this is something the JHU (Mr Gammanpila’s political party) can take up?

Some 53 million tons of electronic waste was generated worldwide in 2009, according to ABI Research, a technology market research firm. Only about 13 percent of it was recycled. Global revenues for e-waste recovery were roughly $5.7 billion last year, according to ABI, and are expected to grow to $14.6 billion by 2014.

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