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  State E-Waste Bill Moves Ahead But Needs Support
August 17, 2003

Richmond remains the only municipality in California to actually vote on an e-waste ordinance, but the second reading has yet to occur. Cities will be relieved of this burden if the California legislature passes AB-20. For a summary of the broad-based move to deal with the gigantic e-waste problem, see the website http://www.cawrecycles.org.

Background on California's E-waste Legislation

In 2002, Senator Sher introduced SB 1523 which would have placed a $10 advanced recycling fee on the sale of all new CRTs sold in California.  SB 1523 passed both houses of the Legislature but was vetoed by the Governor amid intense industry opposition.  However, in his veto statement, Governor Davis said he would rather see California legislation modeled after the product stewardship approach in the European Union, and that he was willing to sign legislation in 2003 that “challenges industry to assume greater responsibility for the recycling and disposal of electronic waste.”

In his veto statement, Governor Davis wrote:  “I challenge the industry to lead the way and devise an innovative solution for the source reduction, recycling and safe disposal of electronic waste . . . Moreover, we simply must demonstrate our leadership and compassion by making sure that California's electronic waste is not irresponsibly sent to underdeveloped nations.” 


In response to the Governor’s challenge, Senator Sher introduced SB 20 in 2003.  The bill would require manufacturers (or their designees) to develop, finance and implement an e-waste recycling system for the hazardous electronic devices they produce.  System plans must be approved by the California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB).


To cover the costs of collection, an advanced recycling fee of no more than $10 would be placed on the sale of all hazardous electronic devices into the state.   Eligible collection systems must be ‘at least as convenient to the consumer as the purchase and delivery of new …devices’, and allow for consumers to return their devices free of charge. 


Manufacturers would have the option of foregoing establishing a recycling system by instead paying a fee to cover the full cost of collection and recycling on every device sold; (this fee will be collected by the CIWMB to pay entities for the collection, processing, and  recycling of hazardous electronic waste). This option may be more practical for small and/or out-of-state manufacturers.

The legislation would require manufacturers to reach a 50% recovery rate of an amount of hazardous e-waste equivalent to the following amount of devices sold by 2006.  The CIWMB would set recycling targets for future dates.

SB 20 would also require that manufacturers or their designees notify the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) if they intend to export hazardous e-waste for recycling. Manufacturers and recyclers must demonstrate that all hazardous devices sent to foreign destinations will be handled in a manner that is at least as protective of public health and the environment as laws and regulations in this state; and they must demonstrate that the importation of the waste is not prohibited by the country of destination.

In addition, SB 20 would require DTSC to adopt regulations mirroring those of the European Union’s Directive on the Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment (RoHS), establishing deadlines and procedures for the phase-out of hazardous materials used in the manufacture of hazardous electronic devices sold in the state no later than January 1, 2007. Additionally, DTSC will adopt regulations prohibiting the use of any electronic or mechanical device which prevents, impedes, or limits the re-use, remanufacture, or recycling of a hazardous electronic devices by January 1, 2005.

Read a fact sheet about e-waste and SB 20

Read a copy of CAW's model e-waste proposal

Read a copy of the Computer TakeBack Campaign's Model E-waste Proposal


What You Can Do to Support SB 20


We need your letters in support of SB 20 in anticipation of the hearing in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. 


One letter should be addressed to the Assembly Appropriations Committee and one to your Assembly Representative (Search by Zip Code)


Assembly Member Darrell Steinberg, Chair

Assembly Appropriations Committee

California State Capitol, Room 2114

Sacramento, CA  95814

FAX:  916-319-2181


Your Assembly Representative

California State Capitol, Room

Sacramento, CA  95814



Please make sure to cc Senator Byron Sher and CAW.  Please fax a copy of your letter to CAW at 916-443-3912 and we will make sure that you are listed on the support list.  We are also happy to hand deliver letters to the Capitol for you.