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[GreenYes] Electronics Front-End Financing -- Long Way to Go
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 20, 2002

Contact: David Wood, GRRN 608-270-0940
Michael Bender, MPP 802-223-9000
Mark Murray, CAW 916-443-5422
 
ELECTRONICS INDUSTRY AGREES TO FRONT-END 
FINANCING FOR WASTE; ENVIRONMENTALISTS 
SKEPTICAL OF DETAILS, IMPLEMENTATION
 
Pressure from state campaigns vital to 
sustainable solution
 
Madison, WI: The recent agreement by 
representatives of the U.S. consumer 
electronics industry to work toward front-end 
financing for electronic waste collection and 
recycling represents the first mile-marker of a 
public policy marathon. The electronics 
industry's new commitment to make progress is a 
marked change and bears witness to the state-
level momentum building for producer 
responsibility. However, the National 
Electronic Product Stewardship Initiative 
(NEPSI) announcement must not divert attention 
away from dozens of issues not yet resolved and 
equal numbers not yet addressed, according to 
founding organizations of the Computer TakeBack 
Campaign. 
 
"It is significant that industry 
representatives appear to be moving away from 
their previous hard-line opposition to front-
end financial responsibility for their 
products, while acknowledging the need for 
legislation, but we are a long way from popping 
the corks," says Michael Bender of the Mercury 
Policy Project. "Our grassroots campaign will 
continue at the state and local level in order 
to push manufacturers to take responsibility 
for the life-cycle impacts of their products," 
continues Bender.
      
      Environmentalists have long advocated 
that a front-end financing system is an 
essential first step in the development of a 
safe and effective recycling system for e-
waste. Producer responsibility legislation is 
pending in several states, including California 
and Massachusetts.
 
"NEPSI's recent agreement to make progress 
toward a front-end financing mechanism for 
recovery of e-waste comes after a year of 
structured dialogue. But unlike a year-old 
infant's first step, this baby-step is not a 
major milestone," says David Wood, Program 
Director of the GrassRoots Recycling Network 
(GRRN). "The agreement 'to work toward the 
development of a front-end financed system' 
does not ensure the ultimate implementation of 
such a financing system and says nothing about 
the dozens of issues related to the structure 
and performance criteria of the collection 
system to be financed. The agreement reached is 
but a small drop in an ocean of major issues," 
continues Wood.
 
      GRRN and the Mercury Policy Project are 
among the founding members of the Computer 
TakeBack Campaign, a new national grassroots 
effort promoting producer responsibility in the 
consumer electronics and personal computer 
industries. The TakeBack Campaign is not 
formally represented in the NEPSI process, 
though two of the Campaign's founders are NEPSI 
participants.
 
"We are encouraged that the electronics 
industry now appears to agree that producer 
responsibility for a front end financing and 
incentive system is needed to facilitate the 
safe and effective recycling of obsolete and 
hazardous electronics," says Mark Murray, 
Executive Director of Californians Against 
Waste (CAW). CAW is leading the California 
legislative campaign. "However, we see nothing 
in the two paragraph NEPSI announcement that 
should preclude California and other states and 
local governments from moving forward with 
legislation for the implementation of a model 
recycling system for hazardous and other 
obsolete electronics. Over the next six months, 
while the electronics industry debates the 
details of an electronics collection, reuse and 
recycling/Jptem, more than one million 
additional hazardous computer monitors and TV's 
will become obsolete in California, adding to 
the 6 million already stockpiled in 
households," continues Murray.
 
"After a year of discussions, this is a good 
first step forward," says Ted Smith, Executive 
Director of the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition 
and NEPSI representative. "It is important that 
industry has now agreed that we need to develop 
a 'front-end' financing solution to the e-waste 
crisis and that it will take legislation to 
accomplish this. But there are many difficult 
issues that remain and now we need to buckle 
down to address them if we are to meet our goal 
of developing a truly effective system for life 
cycle responsibility for electronic products." 
 
The Campaign's Take It Back Platform, developed 
over a year ago, includes many important 
elements that have not yet factored into the 
NEPSI dialogue, including product re-design and 
phase out of hazardous substances, 
environmentally superior collection and product 
recycling standards, and bans on export of 
hazardous waste and use of prison labor. The 
platform may be accessed on-line at 
http://www.grrn.org/e-scrap/e-
scrap_platform.html.
 
 
Founding members of the Computer TakeBack 
Campaign include: As You Sow Foundation, Clean 
Production Network, Clean Water Action, 
Communication Workers of America, 
ecopledge.com, GrassRoots Recycling Network, 
INFORM, Institute for Local Self-Reliance, 
Materials for the Future Foundation, Mercury 
Policy Project, and Silicon Valley Toxics 
Coalition.  ###


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