WEEE and RoHS Environmental Guidelines

Hazardous Substances, Electrical and Electronic Equipment have been categorized for labeling, tracking, restriction, and recycling. The objective is to promote the use of environmentally friendly materials and manufacturing processes. The financial burden to support this transition in production is assigned by requirements to provide adequate programs for collection, recycling, and disposal. These costs are primarily carried on the shoulders of the manufacturers and producers of the products. To remain competitive and to support the environmental initiatives, manufacturers and industry associations will need to work together and collaborate on solutions that facilitate consistent programs and processes.Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE)The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment directive is a set of guidelines initially designed in Europe as a means to categorize all types of electronic goods. The directive imposes responsibility on manufacturers to label products and establish an infrastructure in such a way that end-users of the equipment should have the possibility to identify and return Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment free of charge. Manufacturers are compelled to coordinate collection for ecological disposal, reuse or refurbishment.Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS)The Restriction of Hazardous Materials is an internationally recognized directive with the intent to provide common standards that can be used by individual countries and regions to establish internal laws and regulations governing the proper ecologically friendly disposal of electrical and electronic waste. RoHS has often been referred to as the “lead free initiative”, but it actually promotes restrictions on six hazardous substances.1. Lead2. Mercury3. Cadmium4. Haxavalent Chromium (VI or Cr6+)5. Polybrominated Biphenyls (PBB*)6. Polybrominated Diphenyl Ether (PBDE*)* PBB and PBDE are flame retardants used in some plastics.The RoHS directive applies to equipment defined by a section of the WEEE directive and numeric categories.1. Large and Small Household Appliances, including Ovens, Toasters, Refrigerators, etc2. IT equipment, including PC’s, Printers, etc3. Telecommunications equipment including phones, faxes, etc4. Consumer electronics including TV’s, VCR’s, CD Players, etc5. Lighting Equipment, including light bulbs and fluorescent tubes6. Electronic and Electrical Tools, including drills, lawnmowers, etc7. Toys, Leisure and Sports equipment, including fitness machines8. Medical devices are current exempt, but categorized for future consideration9. Monitoring and control equipment is currently exempt, but categories for future consideration10. Automatic dispensers, including ATMsBatteries are not included in RoHS, but are covered by the European Commission’s Battery Directive of 1991. The European Commission is also studying possible inclusion of medical equipment, monitoring, and control equipment. These items were excluded from the original list of product categories, but it is commonly recognized that the list will be expanded and enhanced with to include categorization of additional hazardous substancesGlobal ParticipationEnvironmental labeling, controls, restrictions, and recycling are gaining international attention. Japan has been proactive in introducing recycling laws and incentives for manufacturers to adopt lead-free processes. Japan has a lead-free marking requirement call J-MOSS that took effect on some products in July 2006.China introduced regulations based on a catalogue of restricted materials. Although the marking and disclosure took effect in March 2007, China has yet to publish the catalog of materials.South Korea introduced the Act for Resource Recycling and Electrical and Electronic Equipment and Vehicles in April 2007. This regulation adopted common framework and categorization of RoHS, WEEE and ELV.US Corporate Social ResponsibilityIn the United States, several individual states have proactively introducing regulations for labeling and disposal of electronic waste. Unfortunately, it is limited to only a few states and the regulations have been disparate with inconsistent results.- California is the only state with RoHS compliant restrictions that ban the sale of products with controlled substances. California regulations require the retailer to collect a recycling fee at the time of purchase. This fee is used to reimburse independent registered collectors and recyclers for managing the proper disposal of restricted materials.- Regulations in the state of Maine share the responsibility for recycling between the local municipalities and manufacturers, requiring producers of the goods to support the efforts both financially and physically.- The state of Maryland is running a five year pilot program that expires in 2010. In Maryland, manufacturers pay a registration fee to the state and the funds support county collection programs.- In the state of Washington, manufacturers are responsible to fund their own plans or participate the centralized standard plan administered by a state approved third party provider.It is only a matter of time before more states begin to introduce diverse controls on hazardous materials. It is in the best interest of manufacturers and industry associations to work together to establish consistent self-regulated programs, processes and initiatives that promote ecologically responsible recycling and disposal. By demonstrating reliable results, promoting consumer awareness, and establishing industry sponsored accountability, it may be possible to encourage consistent state and federal regulations. Promoting consistency to achieve these goals reduces the risk of complicated and costly state controls. Protecting the environment and global resources demonstrates good corporate social responsibility.______________________________________________________Words of Wisdom”It may be that the old astrologers had the truth exactly reversed, when they believed that the stars controlled the destinies of men. The time may come when men control the destinies of stars.”
– Arthur C. Clarke”Laws are like sausages. It’s better not to see them being made.”
– Otto von Bismark”Quality in a product or service is not what the supplier puts in. It is what the customer gets out and is willing to pay for. A product is not quality because it is hard to make and costs a lot of money, as manufacturers typically believe. This is incompetence. Customers pay only for what is of use to them and gives them value. Nothing else constitutes quality.”
– Peter Drucker______________________________________________________John Mehrmann is a freelance author and President of Executive Blueprints Inc., an organization devoted to improving business practices and developing human capital.

Electronic Stewardship Program, Canada’s Special Computer Plan

The Electronic Stewardship Program is Canada’s answer to helping keep electronic components and as many things connected with computers, music players or other plug and play type machinery out of their landfills. Through this program, there are approximately 44 products which are eligible for a change from their existing situation to one that would be beneficial to someone and not in the landfill. This organization is in charge of recycling, reusing and refurbishing many of the electrical games, computers or other type appliances that might have filled a space in the ground but is now able to be used where they are needed most.This approach to recycling electrical items began as a two step process. The first step took place in April of 2009 with the remainder of the procedure taking hold in April of 2010. The first part was to address issues of electronics such as computers, both desktop and portable, monitors and all computer paraphernalia such as mice and keyboards, fax machines, printers and televisions. The second stage gathered all the information and set out to help people recycle and reuse things like cameras, telephones, cell phones, radios, equalizers and amplifiers and video recorders are just an example of the long list of items.The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment program and plan (WEEE) falls under the waste diversion act which means that some electronic equipment will be diverted from the landfills into usable resources. Refurbishing old computers so they are almost like new is one way to help the environment and keep the computers out of the landfills. Once they have been refurbished, they could be reused in schools or prisons or places that have a hard time finding the funding to purchase new computers.The group is a non-for-profit organization that was formed by some of the leading consumer electronic companies, retail outlets and information technology and consumer electronics equipment companies. The WEEE plan necessitates that first importers, assemblers, franchise owners and brand owners each pay a fee for the EEE, electronic and electrical equipment issued to Canada. These fees are then used by the organization to operate the WEEE program.On average, there is a little over 90,000 tons of electronic equipment accessible for reuse or recycling each year in the Ontario area. Prior to the WEEE program, approximately one-quarter was managed properly. With normal use, electronics that are unwanted pose little or no threat to the environment. Other electronic equipment might contain mercury and cadmium or lead and if not properly handled, could become hazards to the environment as well as cause safety or health concerns to the public.Based on the number of electronic and electrical equipment (EEE) a designated program participant supplies, this will determine how much responsibility they will have for the WEEE program. The businesses responsible for 100 percent of the fees are called ‘Stewards’ and they send these fees to the organization directly. Any company or individual who has an interest in becoming a Steward should fill out an application first and then, once they are contacted, they will finish the application process through an interview and several questions.When a Steward enters into the program, they are required to send in a special report on a monthly basis. These reports cover the extent at which the EEE is reused, recycled and refurbished back into the community. It is part of the agreement the Stewards sign when they come on board with this type of program. They agree to all the terms and conditions in helping out the organization in keeping these types of items out of landfills and helping the environment in any way they can.The Electronic Stewardship Program is Canada’s special recycling plan to help lower landfill items. It also helps those less fortunate in that they receive these refurbished and recycled items either free or very low cost. This program has proven in it short existence to be a win-win situation for many people: the venders and manufacturers and the community who benefits from their efforts.