Solid Waste & Recycling


Exporters puzzle over more EPR fees worldwide

Recycling policy is having perhaps its biggest impact ever on manufacturers who sell products around the globe, as...

Recycling policy is having perhaps its biggest impact ever on manufacturers who sell products around the globe, as speakers pointed out at the Take it back! WEST conference held March 1-3 near San Francisco and organized by Raymond Communications

Some highlights:


$ Electronics waste continues to be at the top of lawmakers lists this year, with more than 20 bills already introduced in 17 states as of mid-March. While industry conferees at the National Electronics Product Stewardship Initiative in the U.S. attempt to hammer out a national agreement, a number of states, including Maryland, Massachusetts, and Minnesota are moving on general takeback bills.

$ California is not backing away from its recycled content mandate on rigid plastic containers – and a new bill would take away the option for overall compliance, meaning all RPC users would have to comply with the content mandate annually.

$ For the first time in North America, manufacturers will have to weigh their packaging and pay fees for Ontario and soon Quebec and they will also have to pay separate fees even to use the Green Dot symbol, even in the U.S. A special session was created to answer the many questions on these new laws.

Packaging Regulation

$ Amendments to the packaging directive are forcing many countries to increase their packaging fees to manufacturers.

$ Amended CEN packaging standards and directive amendments mean companies must now provide testing and proof that their packaging is heavy-metal-free.

$ The ten Ascension countries of Eastern Europe are seeing directive requirements as an excuse to assess new fees on importers; and a few countries are finding that competition in collection schemes does not necessarily translate into lower costs.

$ Packaging fees now exist in 30 countries soon to be 40 with Ascension.

Electronics Regulation

On the electronics front, 25 European countries are expected to adopt their own version of the waste electronics directive in the next 24 months even though the EC has not yet clarified exactly what the definitions and exemptions are. U.S. electronics makers are rushing to seminars and scratching their heads trying to sort it all out. We expect a few decisions from EC committees later in March.

$ It has been estimated that industry will have to invest about $40 billion in the electronics recycling infrastructure and to phase out heavy metals in all electronics under the WEEE and RoHS directives.

$ Experts at the Take it Back WEST conference said that technically, industry will be able to meet the 2006 deadline for lead phase-out in most electronics boards but others express concern that the supply chain simply cannot prepare fast enough.

$ While SONY Corp. has issued Green Partner requirements that far exceed RoHS to its huge supplier chain, sources now tell RLI that the company is having to ease up on some of the requirements. No one knows how much Sony will have to spend in its own internal database and staff to track compliance with its green purchasing mandate.

$ While managers from the WEEE Executing Forum are out explaining how efficient existing WEEE compliance schemes are in Europe, Hewlett-Packard managers are telling audiences that current collection organizations are "monopolistic," and thus cost much more than they need to. (We note that just the appearance of new pan-European collection organizations should force existing collection schemes to improve their efficiency. Individual takeback is simply not an option for the vast majority of exporters.)

$ Vic Clements from RFI Wireless told Take it Back WEST attendees he is skeptical EU members states will be able to enforce WEEE/RoHS.

$ China is attempting to move forward with its own version of WEEE and RoHS.

$ The EC is now pushing forward with amendments to the batteries directive that could push battery fees even higher in Europe. According to Victor Bell of Environmental Packaging International, 35 countries worldwide have battery takeback legislation in place 16 have fees.

$ The message from the speakers at Take it Back WEST seems to be: compliance with today’s recycling mandates will require you to push for much more cooperation from your supply chain.

$ The good news (for industry): The EC is now realizing that "producer responsibility" legislation has not solved its solid waste issues, so this may retard introduction of EPR legislation on new products. The bad news: Expect more EPR legislation in Asia, Canada and perhaps on electronics in U.S. at the state level.

To track the legislation in North America and worldwide, call 301-345-4237 or visit

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