By now most electronics manufacturers and service providers know that they need to properly recycle or dispose of end-of-life materials that come through their reverse supply chains. But the number of global e-waste regulations continues to grow, resulting in standards that vastly differ from one part of the world – and even one state – to the next. This is making it increasingly difficult for companies to track and properly follow environmental compliance standards.
There are currently 25 U.S. states with e-waste laws and 27 European Union (EU) member states covered by the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive. South Korea, Japan and Taiwan have e-waste laws that require manufacturers to recycle 75 percent of their annual production. India’s ‘E-Waste Management and Handling Rules, 2011’ just went into effect on May 1, 2012. Other countries have their own sets of rules.
Among these regulations, there is no common registration process or fee structure. EU WEEE member state regulations and individual U.S. state e-waste legislation differ on what products are covered. Some costs are paid up front by the producers, and others are paid in part by end users. Here are a few examples of the many differences in requirements:
- The WEEE Directive requires manufacturers (producers) to register in every individual EU country where they sell products. Each country has its own adaptation of the directive that must be followed. The current version of WEEE lists ten categories of covered electronic products, and fee calculations vary depending on the category.
- Maine requires manufacturers to pay all recycling costs for their branded electronics equipment. Covered products include desktop printers, video game consoles, digital picture frames, portable computers, computer monitors, televisions, and/or portable DVD players.
- North Carolina requires computer and TV manufacturers to be responsible for collecting their old equipment. Computer equipment manufacturers are responsible for implementing a plan based on three levels of performance; TV manufacturers are required to collect an equivalent to their market share percentage.
- California requires an advance recycling fee of $6 to $10 per item, charged at the point of sale, for video display equipment. Customers are exempt from the fee if the manufacturer has used recyclable materials.
- Minnesota requires all manufacturers of video display equipment to recycle 80 percent of the total weight of equipment they sell.
It’s enough to make a supply chain manager’s head spin. While most global OEMs have compliance departments that help them navigate the tangled web of regulations, many smaller manufacturers and service organizations do not. In either case, it often makes the most sense for companies to outsource end-of-life services to a third-party reverse logistics provider that specializes in electronic asset disposition rather than allocate their own precious resources to the task. These third-party providers specialize in staying current on global regulations and ensuring compliance.
If you have experience dealing with e-waste regulations, how has your company navigated this complicated process? Do you think that regulations will ever be standardized across the globe? And which state or country’s methods do you think would provide the best model for standardization? We’d love to know your thoughts!
Information source: http://www.ecycleclearinghouse.org