Governor Schwarzenegger: What's the Plan for Curbing Toxic Electronics?

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger,

Thank you for your signature last week on AB 1109 (Huffman) which will, among other things, phase down the use of toxic heavy metals in lighting products. The substance and structure of this solution builds on existing
California law (computers and televisions), and tracks provisions of the European Union Restriction of Hazardous Substances (ROHS) Directive.

What we can't understand is how your could then turn around and veto Assembly Bill 48 (Saldaña), which would have implemented the exact same policy approach as AB 1109 and existing law, and applied it to the broader range of consumer electronics identified by your Department of Toxic Substances Control as toxic (DTSC).

DTSC has found that most electronic devices 'exhibit the characteristics of toxicity,' and such devices are banned from disposal in solid waste landfills. An analysis by the California Integrated Waste Management Board reveals that Californians discard of more than 515,000 tons of toxic electronics annually. The cost to local agencies of properly managing this toxic waste stream would exceed $275 million annually. DTSC Director Maureen Gorsen was right on target in her public statements last week and in the video message on your website when she recognized the "front end" toxic reduction provisions of AB 1109 as the right approach for ultimately eliminating toxics in our environment.

Existing law combined with your signature on AB 1109 means that approximately half the volume of generated electronics in
California must meet toxic reduction standards adopted by the EU. Why would you not take the next logical step and apply those same standards to all electronics sold in

While California has and will continue to enact and promote policies and programs to increase the recycling of these devices, the most logical and cost effective strategy is to follow the lead of the Europeans and phase out the use of toxics in the first place.

California has a responsibility to protect public health and the environment from the exposure of harmful and toxic materials. Following the European ROHS directive allows for the opportunity to achieve this objective without requiring manufacturers to create a unique product line for California. At the same time, the adoption of this measure ensures that California does not become the dumping ground for toxic devices that can no longer be sold in Europe.

Your veto of AB 48 means that we have missed a ready made opportunity to prevent manufacturers from dumping electronic devices on the California market that they are no longer able to sell in Europe.

If your administration has some alternative plan for addressing the more than 500,000 tons of toxic electronics that are sold and illegally disposed in California annually, than now is the time to put that plan forward.

We await your response.



Mark Murray, Executive Director

Californians Against Waste