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Recycler, tech companies step up e-waste standards

The country's largest recycling company is partnering with Sony and LG Electronics to meet international e-waste standards Congress has yet to adopt.

Neither Congress nor the Bush administration is moving quickly to adopt international electronic-waste standards, but some technology companies are.

Both Sony and LG Electronics have partnerships with Waste Management Recycle America, the largest residential recycler in the U.S., letting consumers drop off for free their old Sony, LG, Zenith, and GoldStar products at designated recycling centers. Now consumers making use of the service can be assured their e-waste is being handled according to the guidelines in the Basel Convention, an international treaty that sets standards for transboundary hazardous waste disposal.

WM Recycle America announced Wednesday it is committing to the Basel Action Network e-Stewards Pledge. Along with committing signatories to the statutes of the Basel Convention about exporting e-waste, the pledge also requires organizations to prevent hazardous e-waste from entering municipal incinerators or landfills.

The United States is the only developed nation that has not ratified the Basel convention. The Government Accountability Office told Congress last week that should be remedied, so that recycling companies stop sending hazardous e-waste to developing countries.

"Consumers need to know who are the legitimate recyclers that will not simply take their money and ship their old electronic materials for processing in developing countries or dispose of them in a landfill," said Sarah Westervelt of the Basel Action Network.