December 20, 2012 | General

BioCycle World — Web Extra! December, 2012

Responsible Waste Producers In Scotland
The concept of waste producers — especially commercial and industrial — having a “Duty of Care” with regard to the kinds and types of waste resulting from their operations has always been part of the United Kingdom’s Environmental Protection Act (EPA) 1990. The requirement focuses on “controlled waste,” which is defined as any industrial, commercial or household waste. A Duty of Care is imposed on producers, importers, carriers and handlers of controlled wastes to prevent pollution and/or improper disposal. Commercial and industrial wastes are the main focus and breach of the duty of care is a crime. In the U.S., similar issues coalesce under the concept of Extended Producer Responsibility and/or Product Stewardship, but EPA 1990 is even more basic.
Recently, the Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012 took the concept a step further. Passed in May, the “Zero Waste Regs” include an amendment of Section 34 of the EPA 1990 to both broaden and deepen the Duty of Care into a Code of Practice. It particularly focuses on “private sector business such as shops, offices and factories and public sector services such as schools, hospitals and prisons.” These establishments, it says, must take “…all reasonable steps to apply the waste hierarchy as a priority order to the management of [their] waste and promote ‘high quality’ recycling.” It further states that “the best way you, as a waste producer, can promote ‘high quality’ recycling is to introduce a fully segregated recycling system.”
Electronics Recycling Primer For Policy Makers
The Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) released a new document, “Designing an Effective Electronics Recycling Program: Lessons Learned from Existing State Program Fact Sheet,” to assist policy makers in establishing and strengthening electronics recycling programs in the U.S., and to provide guidance on key elements to include in model electronics recycling legislation. Twenty-three states have passed extended producer responsibility (EPR) laws requiring electronics manufacturers to establish collection and recycling programs for their products, according to PSI. California has taken a different approach, creating an entirely state-run program funded by an advanced recycling fee collected at the time of sale. Utah has passed a law requiring companies to report on their recycling activities. “Although most of the country’s state electronics programs are still in the early stages of implementation, it is possible to distill several key lessons learned,” notes the fact sheet. “This document attempts to capture a few of those lessons and provide guidance on the key policy considerations and, when possible, provide a menu of policy options that can be adapted according to each state’s particular circumstances.”
The fact sheet provides analysis of the scope of electronic products states have included, comparing the outcomes of a more limited approach to a more comprehensive one. It also discusses program transparency and reporting requirements; public education and outreach; measuring program performance; and preventing irresponsible exporting. On the last item, PSI recommends that “minimum environmental standards should be clearly established in statute to ensure that material is recycled in a safe, environmentally sound manner and not exported to nations using dangerous techniques such as open-air burning and acid baths to recover valuable components.” To draft legislation in a way that captures new products entering the market, such as digital tablets, the fact sheet suggests defining products based on their function (e.g., listing “video display device” rather than their specific name, “Cathode Ray Tube”). “This allows for the scope of products to be expanded more easily through regulatory revision rather than statutory amendment.” The fact sheet can be downloaded on the Electronics page of PSI’s website,

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