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OBSOLETE ELECTRONICS AND SUSTAINABILITY The Regulatory Challenges of E-waste Disposal


OBSOLETE ELECTRONICS AND SUSTAINABILITY The Regulatory Challenges of E-waste Disposal Sabaa Khan, LL.M., LL.B. Barreau du Quebec Associate Fellow, Centre for ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: OBSOLETE ELECTRONICS AND SUSTAINABILITY The Regulatory Challenges of E-waste Disposal

Regulatory Challenges of E-waste Disposal
  • Sabaa Khan, LL.M., LL.B.
  • Barreau du Quebec
  • Associate Fellow, Centre for International
    Sustainable Development Law
  • sabaa.ahmad.khan_at_umontreal.ca

Part 1. E-wastes under International
Environmental Policy
Part 2. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)
Sustainable Production
ELECTRONIC REVOLUTION communication security
health culture mobility food education
40 million tonnes of WASTE ELECTRONICAL AND
ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT generated annually (UNU,
Any appliance using an electric power supply that
has reached its end-of-life. (OECD, 2001)
Components contain highly toxic
substances. (Cadmium, lead, barium, chromium,
mercury, brominated flame retardants )
Landfilling and incineration are harmful to
human and environmental health.

Electronics should be recycled Valuable
materials recovered, toxins safely disposed.
Disposal streams Reuse/donate/store Commercial
recycler Curbside discard
Stringent environmental and occupational health
and safety regulations to follow in the EU,
Canada, US. (e.g. filtration of gas emissions,
treatment of effluents, monitoring and control of
worker exposure to byproducts).
Capital-intensive not always publicly
funded. Not a viable business for small-scale
collectors and recyclers.
Source Tess-Amm
Source Swiss E-waste Competence
Most E-waste is Exported for Disposal, Recycling
and Re-Use
Ghana, BAN
Brazilian Port, UK Times
India, P. Tewari
China, BAN
Exporter incentives Accountability-free,
physically and financially efficient. Profitable
collection charges imposed on consumers, sales
revenue from foreign waste dealers (approx. USD
14.7 billion by 2015). Escapes NIMBY concerns,
environmental regulations.
Importer incentives Manufacturing industries
need continuous supply of raw materials. Rapidly
growing used electronics markets, especially in
Facilitators Poverty Lack of Environmental
Regulation Lax Enforcement Corruption
Source Dayaneni and Doucette (2005)
Externalization of pollution Ocean pollution
(cargo shipping) Human and environmental
contamination in e-waste processing villages
(e.g. Guiyu, China food markets, school yards,
waterways, cancer, respiratory illness, birth
defects, neurological disorders.)
Smelters Lead-bearing scrap recycled by smelting
into elemental lead or alloys. Chinese childrens
blood lead levels are 4x higher than children in
the US.
Contaminated products made from E-waste E-waste a
possible source material for childrens jewelry
sold in the U.S. (J.D. Weidenhammer, 2007) Toxic
levels of cadmium increasingly found in toys
jewellery sold internationally.
E-waste contaminated agri-food imports from
China e.g. Taizhou City (Zhejiang province) the
land of fish rice and electromechanical
industries. Rice crops high in lead and cadmium,
daily intake could cause detrimental health
hazards to consumers. (J.Fu et al., 2008)
How do e-waste trade flows impact human rights?
International Labour Office
United Nations Commission on Human Rights
Resolution 1995/81 a serious threat to the
human rights to life and health of
everyone Special Rapporteurs 2004, 2006
rising e-waste exports pose an obstacle to
realization of human right to health, poor,
vulnerable, marginalized suffer
disproportionately from exposure to toxic
chemicals E-waste is the newest and most
threatening form of hazardous waste.
98 of Chinas 700,000 e-waste recycling jobs
are in the informal sector (Green Jobs for Asia
Conference, 2008). China receives up to 70 of
global electronics discards. (UNESCO Future Forum
2009) E-waste recycling is a growing employment
sector in developing countries that gravely
endangers human and ecosystem health.
Is e-waste export (dumping) prohibited under
international hazardous waste regulation?
Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary
Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
Minimize generation Limit international
movements Promote national self-sufficiency
1990-1995 transfers from OECD countries
disposal - 31.1 recycling 32
Basel Ban Amendment (1995) a complete ban of
all hazardous waste exports for disposal,
recycling and recovery from Annex VII countries
(OECD, EU, Lietchtenstein) to non Annex VII
countries (all other Basel Parties).
  • Entry into force of the Basel ban
    (interpretation of Art. 17(5) of the Convention)
    disputed ¾ of the original 82 Parties to the
    Convention need to ratify or ¾ of the current 172
  • Canadian position There will be a need for
    recycling of hazardous wastes today, tomorrow and
    for many years to come. (disruptive effects on
    hazardous recyclables trade)

What is considered hazardous waste under the
Basel Convention?
  • Annexes I VIII, unless they do not exhibit an
    Annex III characteristic (explosive, flammable,
    liable to spontaneous combustion, liable to
    become flammable or
  • give off flammable gases when in contact with
    water, oxidizing, poisonous, infectious,
  • corrosive, toxic or ecotoxic).
  • Defined as hazardous under domestic legislation
    of an exporting, importing or transit country
    that is a Party to the Convention.

  • Art. 4(9) Hazardous wastes are exchanged between
    territories only
  • when exporting country cannot manage
    self-sufficiently in an environmental manner
  • when wastes in question are required as raw
    material for recycling or recovery in the State
    of import (exception Annex VII to non-Annex VII)
  • under other agreed-upon criteria that do not
    contravene the objectives of the Convention

Do e-wastes qualify as hazardous wastes?
Hazardous Annex VIII A1150 Precious metal ash
from incineration of printed circuit boards
... A1180 Waste electrical and electronic
assemblies or scrap containing components such as
accumulators and other batteries included on list
A, mercury switches, glass from cathode-ray tubes
and other activated glass and PCB-capacitators,
or contaminated with Annex I constituents (e.g.
cadmium, mercury, lead, polychlorinated biphenyl)
to an extent that they possess any of the
characteristics contained in Annex III (note the
related entry on list B B110). A 2010 Glass
waste from cathode ray tubes and other activated
Exceptions Annex IX B1110 Electrical and
electronic assemblies Electrical and
electronic assemblies consisting of only metals
or alloys Waste electrical and electronic
assemblies or scrap not containing components
such as accumulators and other batteries included
on list A, mercury switches, glass from
cathode-ray tubes and other activated glass
and PCB-capacitators, or not contaminated with
Annex I constituents (e.g. cadmium, mercury,
lead, polychlorinated biphenyl) or from which
these have not been removed, to an extent that
they do not possess any of the characteristics
contained in Annex III (note the related entry on
list A A1180) Electrical and electronic
assemblies (including printed circuit boards,
electronic components and wires) destined for
reuse, and not for recycling or final
disposal. Footnote 20 are not
considered waste
(No Transcript)
Basel Convention, Annex IX Re-use exemption
  • Extends lifecycle.
  • Benefits resource and energy conservation.
  • Bridges digital inequalities by ensuring
    developing countries access to IT equipment.
  • Repair and refurbishment require replacement and
    disposal of non-functioning parts.
  • Eventual need for recycling and disposal
  • No mandatory pre-testing, labeling or
    certification requirements.
  • Guise for illegal dumping e.g. 75 Nigeria

Is the Basel Convention an effective measure to
mitigate e-waste pollution?
Why should developing countries not be excluded
from the waste recyclables market?
Negative impact on resource extraction, increased
pressure on manufacturing industries.
Revenue alternatives, social repercussions
Hinders transfers of clean technology, decreases
incentives for cooperation.
Does not solve waste generation issues.
Basel Convention strategies
Trading Restrictions
Advance clean technologies
Enhance capacity
Build multi-stakeholder partnerships
COP 8 (2006)
Nairobi Declaration on the Environmentally Sound
Management of Electrical and Electronic Wastes
Decision VIII/2 Creating Innovative Solutions
  • Preamble
  • Acknowledges risks of e-waste traffic to
    countries that lack capacity.
  • Highlights development opportunities created
    through proper recycling and recovery.
  • Guiding principles
  • e-waste awareness
  • transfer of technologies
  • green design (phasing out of toxics)
  • adoption of product stewardship producer
    responsibility policies

Mandates Working Group to monitor global
developments in e-waste management. Calls for
increased financial support and practical
engagement, development of pilot projects on
environmentally sound collection, re-use,
recycling and refurbishment operations in
developing countries. Strengthen efforts to
combat illegal traffic. Ensure re-use donations
are not end-of-life.
Green Design
Recast waste minimization as a main objective of
industrial production.
Eliminate toxic characteristics of products.
Manage waste phase before product
Lifecycle Thinking
View products as sources of environmental
Shared stakeholder responsibility in pollution
prevention and control.
Principle of Extended Producer Responsibility
(EPR) Manufacturers and importers take
responsibility for the environmental burdens of a
product throughout the entire lifecycle of the
product and not just the phase in which they are
directly implicated.
Implementing EPR
  • Product taxes
  • Advance disposal fees
  • Tradable recycling credits
  • Marking and labelling
  • Customer information
  • Product take-back schemes
  • Re-use and recovery targets
  • Environmental standards

EPR Policies Innovate
Transfer of waste management responsibility to
private sector.
Extend traditional focus of environmental
intervention from byproduct to product.
Create incentives for industry to move towards
waste minimization.
Environmental and financial impacts are not
evident Germany - Ordinance on the Avoidance of
Packaging Waste (1991) EU EoLV Directive
High degree of variation in EPR Policies
Government intervention (local/national/none).
Division of responsibilities between
Impacts on international trading, health and
development of green technologies.
Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment
(WEEE) Directive (2002)
Restriction on the Use of Certain Hazardous
Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment
(RoHS) Directive (2002)
Hold producers responsible for recycling/reprocess
ing/disposal operations related to EEE listed in
Annex 1A 1 large household appliances 2 small
household appliances 3 IT and telecommunications
4 Consumer Equipment 5 Lighting Equipment 6
Electrical and Electronic Tools 7 Toys, Leisure
Sports 8 Medical Devices 9 Monitoring and
Controlling Instruments 10 Automatic
Design and manufacturing obligations on producers
to phase out use of 6 toxics Lead Mercury Cadmi
um Hexavalent Chromium Polybrominated biphenyls
(PBB) Polybrominated biphenyl ehters (PBDE)
WEEE Directive
Producer Definition
Manufacturers, Brand owners, Persons who
professionally importer/export into EU Member
State irrespective of selling technique.
To provide all end-of-life reuse and treatment
information that may be required by recycling
facilities, including disclosure of EEE
components, materials and location of dangerous
substances. To finance collection, recycling,
recovery and disposal operations.
  • New waste (placed on market after 13 Aug. 2005)
  • Historical waste
  • WEEE from private households (includes WEEE from
    industrial, institutional and other sources of
    similar nature and quantity
  • WEEE from users other than private households

Producer Responsibility
End User
Collection facility
WEEE Directive Producer Responsibility
New waste
Historical waste
Producers are individually responsible for
financing end-of-life operations related to their
own products. For WEEE from PH Producers must
provide a financial guarantee with every new
product placed on the market (i.e. recycling
insurance, blocked bank account, participation in
collective WEE management scheme).
WEEE from PH Producers existing on the market
(at the time the treatment costs occur) assume
collective responsibility according to their
respective share of the market by type of
equipment. WEEE from users other than PH
Producers are jointly responsible with users.
WEEE Directive Government Role
Set up collection and financing systems where
consumers can return WEEE at least free of charge
Keep a registry of producers (Art. 12(1)).
Collect information on annual quantities put on
market, collected, recycled and exported.
Encourage green design (Art.4).
Meet collection target of 4kg per inhabitant
(Art.5(5). New proposal revises this to 65 by
weight of all Annex 1A EEE placed on market in 2
preceding years.
Consumer information Inform and educate users on
WEEE health hazards and disposal operations,
facilitate access to collection sites, promote
consumer awareness and participation.
(Article 10, WEEE)
WEEE Directive Key Implementation Issues
Collection Responsibilities
Lack of harmonization
Producer Definition
Varying national requirements (form substance)
means excessive administrative burden
compliance cost on producers.
Physical and financial responsibilities for
collection of WEEE from PH not specifically
allocated to producers. (Deviation from the
  • When producer is the first importer into the
    national State (wholesaler, distributor,
  • Producer changes each time product crosses
    national borders.
  • Several producers held responsible for same
    product (markings, financial guarantees).

Differentiation in interpretation of key
terms producer, WEEE from private
households, put on the market.
Individual financial responsibility with respect
to new products not unanimously transposed
(ambiguous or unaddressed).
Differences in the obligations of distance
sellers foreign entities leaves space for free
Inclusion of wholesalers and retailers as
Proposal for a revised WEEE Directive
  • EEE producers access to their own WEEE not
    guaranteed (leaks outside producer-funded
  • Other market actors competing for WEEE remain
  • No obligation on consumers to discard through
    appropriate channels.
  • No obligation on municipalities to transfer all
    collected WEEE back to producers for subsequent

Harmonized system of producer registration/reporti
ng, inter-operational national registers.
Clarification on product scope (new
categorization household/non-household)
Minimum standards for inspection monitoring
requirements for WEEE destined for shipment.
Higher targets for recycling and reuse.
Promotes the extension of producers financial
responsibility for WEEE throughout the whole
waste chain, including from private households.
Regulations for the Administration of the
Recovery and Disposal of WEEE, Order No. 551, PRC
Administrative Measure on the Control of
Pollution Caused by Electronic Information
Products, Order No. 39, PRC (2006)
Takes effect January 2011. Product scope to be
defined in forthcoming catalogue. Regulates
recovery (collection), disposal. Does not
cover reconditioning, maintenance, reuse. Main
objective is to regulate disposing enterprises.
Lead Mercury Cadmium Hexavalent
Chromium Polybrominated biphenyls
(PBB) Polybrominated biphenyl ethers
(PBDE) Information disclosure (content levels,
environment-friendly use period,
recyclability), labeling restrictions, pre-market
compliance testing and certification. Range of
products electronic components but not
assemblies, packaging, raw materials). Products
for export not included. All actors involved in
production, sale, import must comply.
How does the China WEEE impact EEE

Establishes permit system for disposing
enterprises (WEEE recyclers). Prohibits all
other entities and individuals from engaging in
WEEE treatment. Obliges all actors involved in
WEEE treatment (recovery, storage, transport,
disposal) to comply with environmental protection
regulation and environmental hygiene
administration, and to establish WEEE monitoring
and information data management systems.
  • Not obliged financially or otherwise in WEEE
    collection. Encouraged to collect WEEE
    independently or through their distributors,
    repair organs or other entities.
  • Responsible for disclosing information on toxic
    components and product recyclability, and
    contributing to a government-administered special
    fund for WEEE disposal. (Rules pertaining to
    collection, administration and use of the fund

Provides an asset write-off to govt agencies,
social organizations, enterprises and
institutions that deliver WEEE to disposing
  • Fails to provide an accountable, coherent system
    for WEEE collection.
  • Does not solve problem of household e-waste
    being diverted to informal sector.
  • Fails to provide framework for consumer
    awareness / participation in safe disposal.

Japan WEEE/RoHS Laws
HARL (2001)
LPEUR (2001)
RoHS (J-MoSS, 2006)
  • Establishes manufacturer take-back schemes for
    tvs, refrigerators, washing machines and air
  • Consumers pay a recycling fee by purchasing a
    recycling ticket at retailers or post office.
    Products are returned to retailers,
  • Fees are transferred to producers on a monthly
    basis. Fees are low and difference in actual
    recycling cost is assumed by producers.
  • Covers consumer-owned IT equipment, some other
  • Obliges Japanese manufacturers in specific
    industries to incorporate 3 rs (reuse, recyle,
    reduce) in their business model.
  • Imposes a point-of-purchase recycling fee.
    Consumer gets a label to put on EoL equipment,
    then sends it to post office. Postal system sends
    it to appropriate recycler.
  • Same six substances as China, EU.
  • Applies to PCs, TVs, refrigerators, washers,
    dryers, microwave ovens and unit air
  • Does not prohibit use, imposes labeling
    restrictions, information duties when content
    levels of these substances exceed the allowable

United States Approach
  • California
  • RoHS law (EWRA, 2003), mandatory recycling
    system and export ban (same standard as Basel
  • Local governments responsible for collection and
  • Industry participation limited to green design,
    no financial or other implication in recycling

Landfill bans EPR policies in 18 States.
46.1 of U.S. population uncovered by e-waste
laws. (Consumers are charged a fee by e-waste
Federal export rules dont prohibit U.S.
recyclers from exporting. State-level patchwork
policies pose administrative and financial
U.S. Legislative Proposals (May 2009)
Environmental Design of Electrical Equipment
(EDEE) Act
Amendment to the Solid Waste Disposal Act to
restrict certain exports of electronic waste
No electro-industry product will be manufactured
or imported unless it meets m.a.c. limits (same 6
substances as EU RoHS.) Electro-industry
product "any product or equipment that is
directly used to facilitate the transmission,
distribution, or control of electricity, or that
uses electrical power for arc welding, lighting,
signaling protection and communication, or
medical imaging, or electrical motors and
generators". Detailed list of exclusions and
exemptions (e.g. electrical wire, cables and
accessories, medical equipment, products with
300V rating, fixed installations). IT
equipment? Household / consumer equipment? Toys?
Leisure Sports equipment?
Prohibits e-waste exports to non-OECD
countries. (Does not establish national EPR rules
or guidelines). Product scope "used personal
computers, servers, monitors, televisions, other
video display products, printers, copiers,
facsimile machines, video cassette recorders,
digital video disc players, video game systems,
digital audio players, personal digital
assistants, telephones, image scanners, and other
used electronic products the EPA determines to
be similar". Exemptions include re-use, repair,
refurbishment. U.S. exporters not obliged to
provide contractual proof of receiving facilitys
consent or capacity to handle the shipment in an
environmentally sound manner.
Canadian E-waste Regulation
Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment
(CCME) Canada-wide Principles for Electronic
Product Stewardship Recommended E-Waste Products
EPR/ARF systems in place pending Alberta M
anitoba Ontario Quebec Saskatchewan Nova Scotia
British Columbia
Canadian Comparison
Quebec Draft Residual Materials Management
Policy (Nov. 2009) Electronic Products electron
ic appliances used to send, receive, display,
store, record or save information, images, sounds
or waves, and their accessories, except products
designed and intended to be used in an
industrial, commercial or institutional environmen
t exclusively. (Art. 23) Subcategories Compute
rs peripherals Televisions Printers, Scanners,
Faxes, Photocopiers Phones devices (cellular,
satellite, traditional, pagers, hands-free) Video
game consoles peripherals Players, Recorders,
Burners Digital photo frames, e-books, GPS
systems, walkie-talkies, digital cameras,
Saskatchewan Waste Electronics Regulation Designa
ted products Computers peripherals
Printers Monitors Televisions Audiovisual
equipment (including in-vehicle) Non-cellular
telephones and answering machines
International WEEE/RoHS Legal Landscape
Information Sharing and Stakeholder
Participation Lack of stakeholder awareness and
incentive contribute to improper disposal. Need
to strengthen public education initiatives. Inter
lock interests of manufacturers, consumers,
recyclers and the informal sector. Developing
countries Inclusion of informal sector in
environmental management necessary (e.g.
utilizing their collection/handling skills).

Responsibilities of Non-Producers Govts need to
address the role and financial interest of
e-waste brokers, recyclers and other
non-producers involved in WEEE chain. Important
that producers can access WEEE before it enters
unregulated recycling channels. Greater
transparency and corporate responsibility needed
in the recycling sector.
Harmonized RoHS Adoption Essential dimension of
e-waste governance. No action on RoHS will hurt
domestic industries, slow down global
standardization of green design and clean
production. Discordance between policies poses
serious compliance issues, costs (especially for
SMEs, Asian contractors). Need for financial
and technical assistance to EEE supply chain
Sustainable Consumption
Sustainable Production
An environmental framework for electronics
E- Waste management
Sabaa Khan sabaa.ahmad.khan_at_umontreal.ca
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