May 03, 2013

A trade group that represents Apple, Hewlett-Packard, and several other device makers is pushing to change international rules to make it easier to ship broken mobile phones and other gadgets to developing nations.

The Information Technology Industry Council is suggesting the changes at this week's meeting of the Basel Convention, which oversees the international treaty intended to prevent international toxic waste dumping. The group is proposing new language in the treaty that could reduce the types of gadgets currently considered electronic waste.

The changes are esoteric shifts in what for most consumers is an obscure international document. But, according to one watchdog group, the implications are significant. The Seattle-based Basel Action Network worries that the trade group's proposed language could lead to a deluge of exporting of gadgets containing toxic lead, cadmium, mercury, and brominated flame retardants to countries ill-equipped to safely dispose of them.

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