Congressional E-Waste Plan Draws Ire from Many Corners

Date: April 7, 2008

Source: News Room

A legislative blueprint for e-waste regulation, detailed in a concept paper, is drawing ire from many corners including the EPA, states, industry and environmental groups, each with an axe to grind. The concept paper was crafted by staff working for lawmakers who are members of an informal, bipartisan e-waste working group. The plan calls for a new e-waste subtitle of the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA). It would ban landfilling of recyclable e-wastes, regulate it as a new category of waste while exempting it from current rules governing solid and hazardous waste; require EPA to set minimum standards for new state programs while grandfathering existing state programs; and require increased notifications and consent from receiving countries for e-waste exports. Among those critical of the measure is the Consumer Electronics Association which calls it unfair and unbalanced by placing financial responsibility on the industry for recycling its products. They cite surveys that show take-back fees wouldnot be effective. Meanwhile, officials at EPA said that the landfill ban should be expanded to prohibit incineration and regulated as "universal waste" along with mercury-containing equipment and pesticides. Furthermore, any bill should require EPA to set recycling standards that are at least as protective as current state standards. On the other hand, some environmental groups including the Electronics Take-Back Coalition accuse the concept paper of giving too much latitude to the EPA to set the standards because of inherent problems of the agency which is frequently at odds with states and industry.

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