If e-waste strategy is on your agenda, evaluate e-Stewards program

If e-waste strategy is on your agenda, evaluate e-Stewards program

Summary: Given that more and more enterprise and midsize businesses are studying what they should do with their e-waste and how they should deal with it, it's little wonder that there are several different industry efforts cropping up to claim their attention.

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TOPICS: CXO
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Given that more and more enterprise and midsize businesses are studying what they should do with their e-waste and how they should deal with it, it's little wonder that there are several different industry efforts cropping up to claim their attention.

In my mind, there are two big organizations for you to watch: The Basel Action Network (BAN), which is an advocate for the strict provisions of the Basel Convention governing hazardous wastes, and the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (aka ISRI), which is approaching the problem from the recycling industry's point of view.

Each organization is touting their own certification program to help businesses choose recyclers that are supposedly following responsible e-waste business practices.

Jim Puckett, executive director of BAN, says that the BAN e-Stewards is the more stringent of the two certifications, because there is a layer of independent audit involved to ensure that recyclers and waste management companies are upholding the letter of the law when it comes to the Basel Convention. Among other things, the convention forbids the export of non-working technologies to certain countries and it forbids the use of prison labor in processing. Puckett says that many technology OEMs remain in denial about the acuteness of the problem. "We need to get the OEMs to wake up to the brand liability," he says.

Two big exceptions to this rule are Dell and Hewlett-Packard, which have been very public about their support of the Basel Convention, even if they haven't yet declared their position on the e-Stewards program. Puckett says the jury is still out on Apple, although it is apparently evaluating its policies; he isn't familiar with the public stance of IBM, because he hasn't seen anything in writing.

So far, there are approximately 35 e-Stewards doing business in North America. Bob Houghton, president and CEO of Redemtech, which is one of the listed e-Stewards, says some of his company's customers have begun requiring the certification. In fact, Redemtech is negotiating a relationship with a leasing partner that plans to use Redemtech's services as a way of offering sustainable technology leases that guarantee the responsible disposal, refurbishment or reuse of technology when a lease term is up. "The large enterprise that leases often has an environmental policy," he says.

ISRI's approach to the e-waste problem is tied to the EPA's Responsible Recycling Practices effort. BAN's Puckett says that these practices are merely a subset of what the e-Stewards program provides in terms of being confident that your technology isn't winding up where it shouldn't wind up.

Topic: CXO

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  • eWaste Cautions

    ISO, BAN and R2 certifications can be very comforting in selecting an e-waste recycler. Unarguably, these certifications can and do serve as indicators that the organization is properly managing materials.

    Unfortunately however, this industry is still new to those whom audit the systems and the auditors can easily overlook some very serious, unintended or intended disregard for not only the recyclers own policies but also for the law, notably international law.

    Consider hiring an auditor whom is
    knowledgeable with the industry before committing.
    termsglobal
  • RE: If e-waste strategy is on your agenda, evaluate e-Stewards program

    I have been a recycler, environmental protection regulator, Peace Corps volunteer, geek etc. for a long time. I would like to invite you to visit films of the processes which R2 allows, and which BAN does not allow (by virtue of the nationality). The problem with the BAN E-Stewards is that they assume "stricter" is better. In fact, "stricter" is closer to prohibition and usually does not result in better. What is happening is that the contract manufacturing and contract assembly companies which made the electronics cannot believe Americans are throwing them away, and are buying them and importing them. Foxconn, Proview, BenQ, Wistron, etc. and their own subcontractors are not the "viet cong". R2 allows the possibility that they can play a vital role if properly inspected and certified. E-Stewards pretends that there are American companies which repair and remanufacture consumer-grade CRT monitors, and bans the foreign factories from participating. R2 will win by offering the overseas factories "fair trade" incentives to improve their practices, E-Stewards will lose by pretending American companies are reusing material which they are in fact only shredding.

    http://retroworks.blogspot.com/2010/02/e-steward-and-r2-in-cross-fire.html
    retroworks
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