Would putting a ban on international trade in e-waste put an end to polluting “backyard” recycling practices in developing nations? A new bill under debate in Congress seems to think so. But a new article from a researchers at Arizona State University begs to differ.
The bill, known as House Resolution 2595, would ban the export of e-waste from the United States–with the assumption that this would do a lot to curb dirty recycling practices in developing nations like China, India, Thailand. But Eric Williams, an assistant professor at Arizona State University with a joint appointment in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment and one of the authors of the article, highlights this solution as short-sighted.
Williams and his co-authors point out that such a ban is likely to push US e-waste into the already-thriving black market–and that, in the very near future, India and China are slated to outpace the US in electronics purchases, making a ban on imports negligible in terms of environmental impact. The authors recommend alternatives to an e-waste ban that would encourage current “backyard recyclers” in these countries to first repair and reuse equipment and secondly create jobs for safe recycling.
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