EPA, U.S. lax on e-waste regulation, GAO says
A new report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office paints a bleak picture of electronic-waste practices in the United States and condemns the U.S. EPA for its lax enforcement of a new national e-waste law. E-waste often contains toxics like cadmium, lead, and mercury, which can leach out of computers, TVs, and other electronics once they’re in the landfill. And even when e-waste is reclaimed for recycling, recyclers usually end up exporting it to the developing world to be disassembled in poor working conditions with rudimentary equipment, often leading to severe pollution of the air and water. “U.S. law allows the unfettered export of nearly all types of used electronic devices,” the report said. However, last year a new national law took effect in the U.S. that aimed to stem the flow of old cathode-ray tube screens overseas. So far, though, enforcement has been weak; the GAO said that “EPA has done little” to even set up an enforcement program. The report found that 43 U.S. recyclers were violating the CRT regulations and that the EPA doesn’t know where 80 percent of U.S. e-waste is headed.