May 7, 2003

See background info

For more information, contact:
David Wood, 608-232-1830
Robin Schneider, 512-326-5655
Ted Smith, 408-287-6707

Computer TakeBack Campaign slams Bush EPA's plan to protect Dell, electronics manufacturers

Industry enlists Bush EPA to deflect scrutiny of e-waste problem with Plug In To Recycling Program

Madison, WI - This week, a California legislative proposal was placed into consideration, further expanding this year’s efforts by a national network of organizations to force legislative action on the growing crisis of electronics waste.

“We can not count on federal action to address this problem, and we can not ignore the threat to our communities from lead and other toxins in discarded computers and consumer electronics,” says David Wood, Madison, WI-based Co-Director of the GrassRoots Recycling Network and Organizing Director of the Computer TakeBack Campaign ( “Working with our allies in a dozen states, we have put forward substantially similar legislation requiring computer companies to bear the cost of managing e-waste, and we are tracking legislative efforts in another 14 states.”

The new California legislation, SB 20,, builds off of California Governor Gray Davis’ 2002 veto of an earlier e-waste bill, calling for more to protect the state’s environment and public health.

The current status of state e-waste legislation in the U.S. is cataloged in an interactive map recently released on the Campaign’s web site at

Electronic waste from discarded computers and consumer electronics is one of the fastest growing waste streams, and due to the presence of lead, mercury, brominated flame retardants and other hazardous substances, one of the most toxic. There are an estimated 300 million obsolete computers in the U.S., with fewer than 10 percent destined for recycling each year.

The Computer TakeBack Campaign and its network of state organizations is advancing legislation requiring brand owners, such as Dell Computer, to take financial responsibility for safely managing these products at the end of their useful lives. The principal of producer responsibility shifts the costs of waste management off of taxpayers and local governments and on to producers, creating a powerful market incentive for companies to reduce their use of toxics and design products to be more easily re-used or recycled.

“We are facing a tidal wave of e-waste in this country,” says Robin Schneider, Executive Director of Texas Campaign for the Environment. “Here in Texas, SB1239/HB2967 is part of the national effort for a comprehensive solution. With similar legislation in California and several other states, we can protect the public health in our state without putting ourselves at an economic disadvantage,” continues Schneider.

“The e-waste problem continues to grow and fester while the Bush administration pursues failed ‘voluntary’ policies,” says Ted Smith, Executive Director of Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition and Coordinator of the Computer TakeBack Campaign. “The proliferation of state initiatives is the main driver for effective solutions and the new California initiative, the most comprehensive to date in the US, holds the best hope for shaping the national resolution to enact producer responsibility,” continues Smith.

Organizations leading the Computer TakeBack Campaign include Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, GrassRoots Recycling Network, Californians Against Waste, Clean Producer Network, Clean Waster Action, Communication Workers of America,, Environmental Advocates of New York, Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Mercury Policy Project, Natural Resources Council of Maine, Texas Campaign for the Environment, Vermont Public Interest Research Group, and Washington Citizens for Resource Conservation.


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