AND PHONE COMPANY
WEIGHS IN ON E-WASTE
SACRAMENTO, CA - Tones, an internet and phone company started by environmental groups has urged the California Assembly to support the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Extension (AB 2202), which would phase out the use of hazardous materials in all consumer electronics – including many wireless handsets.
“The Restriction of Hazardous Substances Extension will act as both the ‘carrot’ to spur commercially-viable technological solutions and the ‘stick’, creating a disincentive for wireless carriers to continue their current practices – which are consumer and environmentally un-friendly,” said Liz Karan, Co-Director of Tones.
California disposes over 515,000 tons of electronic waste every year into municipal landfills. The Department of Toxic Substances Control has determined that most electronic devices are toxic, and as of February of this year were banned from landfills under the state’s Universal Waste Regulation. Unfortunately, since that ban became effective, California is no where close to 100 percent compliance of that law, and consumers are still disposing toxic e-waste into landfills.
According to the US EPA, approximately 70% of the toxic heavy metals found in landfills come from electronic wastes. Due to their content of lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic, which can damage nervous, kidney, neurological and reproductive systems, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has established that mobile phones count as hazardous waste. Nationwide there are more than 500 million used mobile phones sitting on drawers or in our landfills and another 125 million will be added to the shelves or landfills this year alone. The problem is growing at a rate of more than 2 million phones per week, putting tons of toxic waste into our landfills daily. This mountain of toxic waste poses a major threat to the environment.
In 2003, the legislature adopted SB 20 (Sher), the E-waste Recycling Act, which included a provision establishing a phase out of the use of specified toxic materials in ‘covered electronic devices’ (CED’s), effective January 1, 2007. CED’s are currently limited to electronic devices containing a screen larger than 4 inches. The Restriction of Hazardous Substances Extension would amend the definition of CED’s to include virtually all consumer electronics consistent with the European Union’s Restriction on Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive.
“The wireless industry compounds the e-waste problem through planned obsolescence of cell phone handsets and by locking phones to proprietary networks practically ensuring that consumers need to buy a new handset when switching between wireless carriers,” said Karan.
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