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Environmental regulations related to e-waste are dynamic, inconsistent, and a challenge to understand. There are federal laws that apply to hazardous waste generated by large businesses and institutions, state laws, and international rules to consider. In order to ensure Cascade is in compliance with this patchwork of legislation, we conduct annual compliance audits of our company and facilities. As a result, we exhaustively research the latest related requirements to demonstrate that Cascade is in compliance with these laws.
It is important to note that there is no such thing as a computer recycling company being "EPA Certified." Some companies claim this designation, but the EPA does not certify any electronics recycler, nor do they even have a standard that companies can be certified to. Sometimes, these firms may just have an "EPA ID Number" which is merely a registration number that identifies the company to their state and federal regulators. This does not indicate the company is responsible in any way.
To determine if a company is responsible, you need to do your own due diligence. See if they have been independently certified to a recognizable industry standard, such as ISO 14001 or the e-Stewards program. Better yet, visit them yourself. Cascade welcomes visits and audits of its facilities.
Current and Proposed Legislation related to Takeback
As of January, 2012, 25 states have passed e-scrap legislation. Most of these laws target the collection of computers and televisions from households, but do little to impact how businesses are required to dispose of their waste and pay for this disposal. Larger institutions have been regulated since the 1970s relating to the disposal of hazardous waste, which includes most e-waste.
The Electronics Takeback Coalition maintains an up-to-date listing of current and proposed legislation related to e-waste. Feel free to contact them or Cascade to help understand how these regulations apply to you.
United States Federal Legislation
There have been several bills introduced on the federal level over the past decade to consider more strict landfill bans or a national financing system for subsidizing the electronics recycling industry. But without a broad consensus for how to assign responsibility for funding a collection and processing system, and with the increase in state activity, Congress has been reluctant to put any priority on this issue. It is doubtful there will be any significant movement on federal e-scrap legislation for domestic processing in the near future.
The federal government has taken some action related to the export of hazrdous e-waste. US EPA enacted the "CRT Rule" in July, 2006. It places restrictions and reporting requirements related to the export of CRT glass and CRT monitors/TVs from the US. There have been some enforcement actions against some companies due to violations of the CRT Rule.
In the absense of specific federal e-waste legislation, electronics recycling and disposal are primarily regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The following web sites provide information on current regulatory requirement under US RCRA law as well as information on pending legislation.
New legislation is currently under consideration in the US Congress called the Responsible Electronics Recycling Act. This proposed law would restrict the export of non-working, untested, and unprocessed electronic waste and electronic components to developing countries. Cascade is part of the Coalition for American Electronics Recyclers working to promote passage of this bill. Details are available of the CAER web site at www.americanerecycling.org.
With more and more companies operating on a multinational basis, it’s important to be aware of laws in different countries, as well as legislation related to the export and import of used electronics and scrap parts and commodities. Many countries have restrictions on what types of electronic equipment and scrap can be traded.