Thursday, October 22, 2009

Helpful Issues Answered

Many types of electronic products used in the workplace and homes contain hazardous substances like lead and mercury. When these products reach the end of their useful lives or become obsolete, some are considered hazardous waste. In general, hazardous waste may not be discarded in the regular trash. Instead, it must be sent to a facility that has a permit for treatment (including recycling), storage, or disposal.

Electronic hazardous wastes (e-wastes) are different from industrially generated hazardous wastes in that almost every individual, institution and business generates them. Proper management and recycling of e-waste poses lower risks than managing many industrial hazardous wastes.

How do I Know if my E-Waste is Hazardous?


State regulations require the generator of a waste to determine if it is a hazardous waste (this requirement is found in section 66262.11 of title 22 of the California Code of Regulations). Wastes are hazardous waste when they exhibit one or more of the following characteristics: toxicity, ignitability, corrosivity or reactivity. Many electronic wastes exhibit the toxicity characteristic due to the lead content as well as other heavy metals.

In addition to the four hazardous waste characteristics, DTSC has listed, in regulation, specific wastes that are presumed to be hazardous and must be managed as hazardous waste. The law does allow individuals to test specific devices to determine whether or not they are hazardous. However, in the absence of testing, all wastes listed by DTSC are presumed to be hazardous. Several categories of e-waste are included in the list; these are listed below under the heading "How do I Know if my E-Waste is covered by the Electronic Waste Recycling Act?"

Law, Tests, Fact Sheets, and Reports on E-Wastes

How do I Know if my E-Waste is Covered by the Electronic Waste Recycling Act (and therefore needs to be handled differently?)

As part of its implementation of the Electronic Waste Recycling Act. DTSC has tested certain types of electronic devices to determine which would be hazardous waste when discarded; only video display devices that DTSC "determines are presumed to be, when discarded, a hazardous waste" are potentially covered by the Act. Currently these devices include:

  • cathode ray tube (CRT) devices (including televisions and computer monitors;

  • LCD desktop monitors;

  • laptop computers with LCD displays;

  • LCD televisions; and

  • plasma televisions.

  • portable DVD players with LCD screens (added December 31,2006)

Note: Many electronic wastes not covered by the Electronic Waste Recycling Act are still considered hazardous wastes and may not be discarded in the regular trash.

If a consumer purchases a "covered electronic device," the retailer may require the consumer to pay the recycling fee on the device. When the consumer discards a "covered electronic device," it becomes a hazardous waste, called a "covered electronic waste." Qualified e-waste collectors and recyclers may receive cost reimbursement from the fund established from the recycling fees for their management of covered electronic wastes. (Since portable DVD players with LCD screens greater than four inches in size did not become "covered electronic devices" until December 31, 2006, they are not subject to the EWaste recycling fee until on and after July 1, 2007.)

How Should I Properly Manage e-waste?


California has adopted Universal Waste Regulations for handling and transporting certain low risk hazardous wastes. Universal wastes include: televisions, computer monitors, computers and other e-wastes. The Universal Waste regulations also apply to other common wastes, such as fluorescent lamps, mercury-containing switches, and batteries.

The management requirements specified in the Universal Waste regulations are easy to understand and comply with. DTSC has prepared several documents that summarize the regulations for managing universal wastes.

Where Can I Send or Take CRT Materials?


One way to find a place to send or take unwanted televisions or CRT computer monitors is to check DTSC's list of CRT handlers who have submitted notifications. Anyone who accepts more than five CRT devices from off site in a calendar year is required to notify DTSC.

Where Can I Send or Take Other Types of E-Waste?

Other types of electronic waste may also be classified as universal waste, and many of the businesses that collect or accept CRT materials also accept other types of e-waste. At present, DTSC does not maintain a list of e-waste recyclers similar to its CRT material handler list.

No comments: