E-waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the United States; while it is approximately 4 percent of the municipal waste stream, it is growing at a rate 2-3 times faster than any other waste. And adding to the severity of the problem is that it’s all extremely hazardous to humans and the environment due to the poisonous chemicals they’re made with. California, all 25 nations in the European Union, and China have passed laws restricting the use of the toxic chemicals that electrical and electronic devices are manufactured with, and as Ferret.com reports, Australia is soon to catch on.
The federal Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) has appointed consultants Hyder Consulting and Product Ecology to look at the implications, issues and impacts associated with the European Union’s directive on the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS).
John Gertsakis, director of Product Ecology and senior associate with the Centre for Design at RMIT University, said the consultants are undertaking a preliminary environmental and economic assessment of an Australian RoHS policy within the context of electrical and electronic products and components.
"The project team is eager to hear from companies, associations and other stakeholders interested in participating in the project and providing input and data," he said. "The project provides a valuable opportunity for organizations to inform the policy development process."
Effective January 2007 all manufacturers of ‘covered electronic devices’ will be prohibited from selling any product in California that contains hazardous materials. Californians Against Waste is sponsoring AB 2202 (Saldaña), which will extend that provision to all consumer electronic devices, effective January 2009. AB 2202 will be heard on the Assembly Floor by the end of this week, where it will need 41 votes to move into the Senate.