Well, it was good, although shocking, to see in black and white that SVTC is not alone in noticing the dismal result of California’s e-waste law.
We extend a huge thank you to the Sacramento Bee for their in-depth look at this problem.
What impressed me most was that the article started out with the original source of the problem. California was the first in the nation to pass e-waste recycling laws and has dealt with the issue of e-waste in a manner that no other state: most of the states that followed made industry responsible for their waste.
Yes, making the industry responsible is the answer. Although I was not working on this issue when this law was passed, colleagues who were here at the time tell me that California had a difficult time passing a bill on producer responsibility because so many of those companies are located here.
One of the major loopholes in this dismal program is the fact that electronic waste from California is still being dumped on developing countries where they do not have the proper infrastructure to deal with such hazardous waste.
In DTSC’s response to the Sacramento Bee’s investigative report, they didn’t even go near the concept of pushing manufacturers to be responsible for the end of life of these products. These companies make billions and should be responsible for the toxic and wasteful system they are creating. Instead the people pay for a recycling program run by the state that is financially broke.
We can only hope that DTSC learns from past mistakes and does not allow the solar industry to create exemptions for itself. It should require manufactures of solar panels to have mandatory takeback and responsible recycling policies.
Can they learn from the mistakes of the electronics industry?
It is interesting that DTSC mentions the Green Chemistry Initiative. As of yet, we don’t know if this initiative is going to be hard-hitting enough to make industry truly work to reduce and eventually eliminate toxic chemicals. Or, if the initiative will be another dismal DTSC policy that does nothing more than try to appease the industry with an intensely weak policy.