May 30, 2002

See background info

Contacts: David Wood - GRRN
(608) 270-0940
(David Wood)
Michael Bender -
(802) 223-9000

EPA's universal waste designation for discarded computer monitors, televisions overlooks key issues and may increase local government burden

Madison, WI - The EPA announced plans to change its designation of discarded computer monitors and televisions in an effort to discourage disposal of these products and encourage re-use or recycling.

"Extending the universal waste rule to products containing cathode ray tubes (CRTs) is an important step to address this country's electronics junkpile," says Michael Bender, Executive Director of the Mercury Policy Project and a co-founder of the Computer TakeBack Campaign. "The EPA's action, however, fails to address the huge numbers of computers, televisions and other electronics that are being shipped out of the country, or not being properly recycled domestically," continues Bender.

The Computer TakeBack Campaign is a national network of toxics and waste reduction activists, recycling professionals, local officials, students, and design professionals promoting producer responsibility for discarded computers and consumer electronics. Improper disposal of electronic equipment, containing various heavy metals and assorted organic pollutants, poses a significant threat to human health.

"Electronic waste is the most rapidly growing waste problem in the world. The enormity of the problem of export of electronic waste is illustrated in our recent report, "Exporting Harm: The High-tech Trashing of Asia", said Leslie Byster, Communications Director for the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition. Exporting Harm documented the export of obsolete electronics to China:

"The EPA's action intends to reduce the regulatory burden on businesses but will very likely increase the burden and costs borne by local governments," says David Wood, Program Director of the GrassRoots Recycling Network (GRRN) and organizing director of the Computer TakeBack Campaign. "The infrastructure necessary to safely and efficiently refurbish or recycle computer monitors, televisions and other consumer electronics does not yet exist. In the absence of a sufficient infrastructure, local governments may become repositories for discarded products. We must keep these materials out of landfills and incinerators, but we must also shift the costs and burden off of local governments and on to producers," continues Wood.
The Computer TakeBack Campaign's platform calls for producer responsibility in order to ensure the proper collection, reuse and recycling of discarded equipment, as well as the phase out of hazardous materials, ending overseas export of electronic waste, and reducing the burden on taxpayers and local governments. The Campaign's platform may be viewed on-line at The Campaign is co-coordinated by Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition ( and GrassRoots Recycling Network (
"It is nearly irresponsible for the EPA to take this action without addressing the issues of hazardous waste export and recycling standards," says Michael Bender.
The EPA's proposed rule can be accessed on line at:


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