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[GreenYes] Fwd: ICRT e-waste flooding landfills

>
>A thorough story on the e-waste problem, with emphasis on extended roducer
>responsibility, is featured on page 3A of today's (January 22, 2002) USA 
>Today.



>Leslie Byster
>Communications Director
>Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition
>International Campaign for Responsible Technology
>____________________________________
>http://www.usatoday.com/life/cyber/tech/2002/01/22/recycle.htm
>
>01/22/2002 - Updated 12:19 AM ET
>
>E-waste flooding landfills
>
>By Patrick McMahon, USA TODAY
>
>SEATTLE — Worn out, obsolete, fried or just plain dead. Yesterday's
>computers, cell phones, VCRs and television sets are headed for the
>nation's 2,200 landfills by the ton. Cities and states are scrambling to
>cope with electronic waste. "Local governments all over the country are
>trying to deal with this," says Sego Jackson, a solid-waste official in
>Snohomish County, Wash., north of Seattle. "We can't do the same old
>'government-pays-all' approach. We can't afford it."
>
>   Read more below
>
>----------
>
>  More on recycling
>  * Charities recycle mobile phones for needy
>* PC industry responding to calls for better recycling
>* It may be time to toss old ideas on recycling
>
>
>----------
>
>  Tech extras
>  * Sign up for Tech’s free e-mail newsletter
>* Search USA TODAY for earlier stories on this subject
>
>
>----------
>
>
>"This is a huge problem for us in California," says Michael Paparian, a
>member of the board that manages solid waste in that state.
>
>Although discarded electronics make up only 1% of the USA's garbage volume,
>"proliferation of consumer electronics has gotten way ahead of cities and
>counties' ability to deal with it," says Michael Alexander, senior research
>associate of the National Recycling Coalition in Alexandria, Va.
>
>It's not just collection and landfill costs that worry some officials and
>consumer advocates. Watchdog groups fear that lead, cadmium, mercury and
>other hazardous materials in electronic devices could leak from landfills
>into groundwater and endanger public health and the environment.
>
>The consumer electronics industry, however, says health concerns are
>exaggerated. "If it's safe enough to be placed on the table where you eat,"
>says Sony Electronics Vice President Mark Small, "it should be safe enough
>in a landfill."
>
>The focus on discarded electronics, or "e-waste," comes as the growth of
>recycling slows across the USA.
>
>"In the 1990s, we got the easy stuff" such as cans, bottles and newspapers,
>says Bruce Goddard, spokesman for the Alameda County Waste Management
>Authority in the San Francisco Bay Area. "Now we have the tough ones left
>to deal with — like e-waste."
>
>E-waste topped the agenda at last week's 20th annual National Recycling
>Congress here. This week, government, industry, academic and activist-group
>representatives will meet in Tampa as part of a yearlong effort to find a
>national solution. The meeting is funded in part by the Environmental
>Protection Agency.
>
>Manufacturers, retailers, local and state governments, and consumer
>activists agree that reusing and recycling electronics is the best way to
>cope with e-waste. But with less than 10% now recycled, the agreement stops
>there. The debate centers on who is responsible: manufacturers, retailers,
>consumers, waste handlers or all of them.
>
>"There is only one person who is going to pay this in the end, and that is
>the consumer," Small says, "whether it's a hidden fee at the time of
>purchase or some kind of tax or payment at the end. Our goal is to make the
>payment be zero."
>
>He says Sony and others are designing products that use more recycled
>materials — "material that is less toxic and less hazardous."
>
>Some countries in Europe and Asia have enacted "extended producer
>responsibility" laws. They require manufacturers or importers to collect
>their products at "end of life" and ensure sorting and recycling — often
>without additional charge.
>
>In the USA, many local governments are struggling to find an answer.
>"Cities and towns have the most responsibility for handling the trash and
>the least power to compel manufacturers to deal with it," says Geoff
>Beckwith, a former Massachusetts state legislator and executive director of
>the Massachusetts Municipal Association. Diverse solutions are being tested:
>  * Hundreds of drop-off programs are being operated across the country by
>governments, non-profit groups, retailers, manufacturers and recyclers.
>Consumers sometimes pay a fee. The Electronics Industries Alliance, an
>industry group, offers a state-by-state list on www.eiae.org.
>
>
>* California and Massachusetts have banned computer monitors from the
>states' landfills and incinerators. Several dozen cities in the two states,
>including San Francisco, also have passed resolutions supporting "producer
>take-back" rules.
>
>
>* A few cities pick up electronic trash curbside. Others provide referrals
>to recyclers. Seattle's King County publishes a list of 32 recyclers,
>retailers and charities that accept e-waste or trade-ins.
>
>
>* Non-profit groups are promoting the use of discarded computers that may
>still be useful for schools and job training.
>
>
>* In Connecticut, manufacturers Sony, Panasonic and Sharp pay a recycler to
>process their products that consumers turn in at statewide collection events.
>
>
>* Hewlett-Packard and IBM take back discarded computers for a fee. Under
>HP's Planet Partners mail-in program, consumers pay $14 to $34 per computer.
>
>
>* Best Buy, the Minneapolis-based consumer electronics retailer, staged 10
>recycling events last year in seven states and plans up to 35 this year.
>The company takes back most consumer electronics items for free but charges
>$10 for computer monitors and $15 for TV sets.
>
>Health and environmental concerns are growing as e-waste accumulates. A
>recent industry study said there are 2 to 3 pounds of lead in average
>18-inch TV sets and computer monitors. Consumer groups say that figure is
>closer to 4 to 6 pounds and warn that over-exposure to lead can damage
>kidneys and the nervous and reproductive systems. (Lead is used in the
>glass of cathode-ray tubes to shield users from exposure to harmful
>radiation.)
>
>Holly Evans of the industry association says lead in electronics rarely is
>in a form that could be absorbed into groundwater and is no more dangerous
>than lead in crystal glassware.
>
>But Ted Smith, executive director of the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition,
>watchdog group in California, says, "E-waste is one of the fastest-growing
>and most toxic waste streams, threatening human health and the environment."
>
>
>
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>
>
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