Environmental groups praised the Hewlett Packard Company March 16th, for its recent announcement that they will henceforth reveal to the public where all of their electronic waste goes. This call for "e-Trash Transparency" was one of the demands of the global toxic trade watchdog organization, Basel Action Network's (BAN) e-Trash Transparency Project, which utilized GPS tracking devices placed within discarded electronic equipment to find out what really happens with our electronic waste. The project revealed, in its two reports "Disconnect" and "Scam Recycling", that American consumers are often duped by recyclers or thrift shops like Goodwill Industries, when they claim environmentally safe recycling and instead export the equipment to developing countries. BAN's investigation discovered that 40% of old printers and monitors were exported to countries like Pakistan and China where they are most often broken down in dangerous backyard operations exposing workers and the environment to dangerous substances such as mercury and lead.
"The public has the right to know where their old electronic waste, which is, in fact, hazardous waste, will end up. They have the right to be assured that it will not end up poisoning workers, land, and water abroad," said Jim Puckett, Executive Director of BAN. "We called on all institutions, enterprises and especially manufacturers to pledge to always tell the public where their e-Waste goes. We are thrilled to see HP heed this important call."
In a blog post of March 3, 2017, HP's Annukka Dickens, HP's Director of Human Rights and Supply Chain Responsibility cited BAN's work and stated: "HP is disclosing its recycling partners to raise the bar for transparency in our industry and to highlight the high standards we set for those vendors. We challenge other companies in and outside of the high-tech industry to follow our lead and disclose recycler vendor standards and performance, as well as the list of recycling vendors they employ globally."
HP now joins Samsung and LG in being fully transparent in North America about their recycling destinations. However, most IT equipment manufacturers, including Apple, Inc., refuse to tell the public where their toxic e-waste, once collected from the public, will end up.
According to BAN, Dell Computers, which was called out in the organization's first report entitled "Disconnect: Goodwill and Dell Exporting the Public's E-Waste to Developing Countries", continues to remain secretive about its downstream destinations including the recyclers they employ as part of their Goodwill/Dell partnership program. Dell's policies dictated that they would never export and that their environmental partner recyclers were carefully vetted to ensure only the most environmentally sound operations. BAN trackers revealed, however, that 21% of the devices delivered to the Dell Reconnect program via Goodwill, were exported to Asia. Extrapolating for the entire amount Dell Reconnect boasts it has handled to date, 21% leads to a staggering figure of 90 million pounds exported to Asia in the last 12 years. That would equate to four 40-foot containers a week for those 12 years from the Dell Reconnect program alone.
BAN and Electronics Industry watchdogs Texas Campaign for the Environment, jointly call on Apple and Dell to be next to commit to disposal chain transparency.
"It's been 15 years since the world learned that so much e-waste was being dumped on developing countries," said Texas Campaign for the Environment's Director Robin Schneider. "We applaud HP for full transparency and urge all electronics companies to finally let us know exactly which companies are recycling our old electronics."