California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) 

Enforcement Advisory Council Meeting

Letter on Concerns Regarding E-Waste Management

May 6, 2002

Julie Nauman
Deputy Director, P&E Division
California Integrated Waste Management Board
1001 I Street
Sacramento, CA  95812-4025

Dan Avera
Chair, CCDEH-SWPC
County of San Bernardino
Environmental Health Division 
385 No. Arrowhead Avenue
San Bernardino, CA  92415-0160

Subject: Enforcement Advisory Council Concerns Regarding E-Waste Management

Dear Ms. Nauman and Mr. Avera:

The Enforcement Advisory Council (EAC) has discussed many concerns regarding metallic discards, cathode ray tubes (CRT's) and other "e-wastes". The EAC adopted Resolutions 98-07, 00-01 and 00-05 and CIWMB staff have worked with LEAs in trying to resolve these special waste concerns. However, these issues continue to get more complex as new regulations evolve. The EAC, as a technical advisory committee to the Board, would like to offer the following suggestions.

DTSC, along with other participating Cal-EPA agencies, such as CIWMB and OEHHA, need to develop an LEA Advisory(s) for handling various household and universal wastes. The Advisory(s) should consider implementation strategies in which the owners and operators are not solely responsible for developing recycling programs for these wastes streams.

It is also recommended that the advisory(s) be based on sound scientific research. They should consider hazard/risk analyses, reasonable and practical materials management and possible impacts of final disposal of these wastes. They should consider limitations or issues within regulations, illegal dumping, collection, storage/stockpiling, transportation, public education, processing, markets, environmental safeguards, financing, and both emerging and available technology.

The advisory(s) should include guidance to the LEA and owner-operator on how all handlers must deal with this material, including the home generator, commercial or industrial businesses, transfer stations, household hazardous waste collection facilities, landfills, recycling centers, and metal processors. Guidance on how to store, transport, process and, if necessary, dispose of the materials in an appropriate manner should be described.

DTSC is currently developing regulations to ban from disposal and/or require special handling of more and more e-waste materials. Markets are often not available for this waste stream, and the existing infrastructure (including storage/stockpiling, processing, financing, transporting and disposal) is severely lacking.

This waste stream has been going to municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills for many years, without any identified problems or impacts noted to date. A significant increase in disposal costs and a lack of a phased implementation process have resulted in a big increase in the illegal dumping of CRTs and televisions. Bans or special handling requirements should not be mandated until, or should be phased in when, markets and infrastructure issues have been addressed.

California needs to consider distinguishing between household generated and commercially or industrially generated hazardous wastes, as does the federal government. The federal government exempted household generated "hazardous wastes" from Subtitle C and allows the waste to be disposed at MSW landfills. The federal government must have determined that smaller quantities of household hazardous wastes do not pose as significant a risk or hazard to the environment as large quantities. They may also have recognized that the alternatives and infrastructure for handling such generated materials were much more difficult. However, since such wastes could go to MSW landfills, the design requirements and standards of Subtitle D were developed. Subtitle D landfills have design requirements to a level just below those of hazardous waste landfills, and are engineered to handle household hazardous waste.

We should do all we can to reduce disposal of waste, and particularly hazardous waste, into landfills. However, there needs to be changes in some of the standards/requirements, as well as guidance, to provide reasonable flexibility for management of our household hazardous wastes based on scientifically determined risks and hazards, as well as infrastructure, markets, and economics of the diverse areas of California.

Sincerely,

original signed by:

Michael L. Schmaeling, Chair
Enforcement Advisory Council

Cc: Dorothy Rice, DTSC

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Last updated: February 8, 2005
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