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[greenyes] WI e-waste producer responsibility legislation introduced


At a Capitol press conference and subsequent 2 hour legislative e-waste
teach-in, GRRN?s and the Computer TakeBack Campaign?s producer
responsibility for e-waste legislation was introduced today and quickly
proceeds to a hearing on Thursday 2/12 before the Assembly Natural
Resources Committee. Our press release is pasted in below, and the bill
text can be accessed directly from www.grrn.org/e-scrap.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE For
more information contact:
February 10, 2004
Rep. Mark Miller, 608-266-5342
David Wood, 608-255-0837
608-347-7043 (cell)

Business, Environmentalists, and Local Government Back Legislation to
Promote Responsible Electronics Recycling in Wisconsin
Rep. Mark Miller?s bill proposes producer driven solution to toxic
electronic waste

Madison, WI ? In response to citizen concern over the increasing
quantity of hazardous electronic waste in Wisconsin, Assembly
Representative Mark Miller introduced legislation calling for take-back
and recycling programs to be financed by computer and electronics
producers.

"Electronic products contain highly toxic materials that endanger public
and environmental health," says Rep. Miller. "This proposal is similar
to waste management programs that are working in Europe."

Discarded electronic waste, also known as e-waste, is among the fastest
growing waste streams in the industrialized world. Rising sales and
rapid product turnover have led to an estimated 300 million - 600
million obsolete computers in the United States alone. This unwanted
electronic waste is highly toxic and poses a major health threat to the
public; the average computer contains 32 known toxic chemicals,
including quantities of lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, polyvinyl
chloride and mixed plastics. Currently, Wisconsin has no laws
regulating the disposal of electronic equipment, resulting in tens of
thousands of computers ending up in the state?s landfills each year. An
estimated 70% of the heavy metals found in landfills come from this
discarded electronic waste.

?Electronic waste is not only a threat to human health and the
environment, it represents an enormous potential unfunded mandate on
local governments,? says David Wood, Executive Director of GrassRoots
Recycling Network and co-coordinator of the national Computer TakeBack
Campaign. ?The producer responsibility approach can solve environmental
problems without spending already scarce taxpayer dollars. It is
consistent with recent efforts to create jobs while providing regulatory
flexibility,? continues Wood.

The new legislation seeks to solve Wisconsin?s e-waste crisis by
requiring electronics producers to finance the collection and recycling
of equipment they sell in the state.

?The bill makes electronics producers responsible for the entire
life-cycle of the products they sell,? said Representative Miller.
?This extended producer responsibility solution shifts the burden for
collection and recycling from the taxpayers to the producers, providing
a financial incentive for companies to design products that are durable,
less toxic, and more easily recyclable.?

Wisconsin joins the ranks of 10 other states, including Minnesota,
California, Massachusetts, Maine and Washington, which have introduced
similar legislation. Producer take-back programs are already in place
in many western European countries and Japan.

Already, the legislation has garnered support through-out the state.
Student interns from the GrassRoots Recycling Network presented over
3,000 signed computer diskettes in favor of the bill.

?We used out-dated 5 ¼ inch floppy disks as petitions to demonstrate
the prevalence of obsolete technologies for which no one was
responsible, which create waste management burdens on taxpayers and
local government,? says Clare Cragan, UW-Madison senior and GRRN
computer campaign organizer. ?Today?s college students are the first
generation to grow up recycling and using PCs. Representative Miller?s
legislation is vital to reducing the harms from otherwise helpful
products.?

The legislation represents a break from traditional command and control
environmental regulation, providing electronics producers flexibility to
design take-back and recycling systems that best suit their particular
business models. Recently, industry leaders like Hewlett-Packard and
Dell have publicly acknowledged the business advantages of reducing the
environmental impacts of their products and taking stewardship over
products throughout their life-cycle.

Electronics recycling is a growing industry with strong potential for
job creation and local economic development. Wisconsin is home to
several leading electronics recyclers, including two that were among the
first to be recognized for outstanding environmental performance ?
Madison?s Cascade Asset Management and Holmen?s Scientific Recycling.

?With an estimated 400 million electronic units being retired by the end
of this decade, the computer and household electronics recycling
infrastructure will need to grow by a factor of 4 or five to meet this
increased demand,? says Neil Peters-Michaud, CEO of Cascade Asset
Management, a Madison-based electronics recycling company. ?Wisconsin
can become a leader in this industry with a clear direction from the
legislature on regulatory requirements and a strong support for
responsible and environmentally sound processors in the state.?

Representative Miller?s bill is scheduled for hearing on Thursday
February 12th before the Assembly Natural Resources Committee.

Fact sheets about electronic waste in Wisconsin can be accessed on-line
at <http://www.grrn.org/e-scrap/> http://www.grrn.org/e-scrap/.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
David Wood
Executive Director, GrassRoots Recycling Network
Organizing Director, Computer TakeBack Campaign
210 N. Bassett St., Suite 200
Madison WI 53703
608-255-4800, ext. 100
608-347-7043 (cell)
david@no.address



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