In California, Improper E-Waste Export Now a Crime
No person in California may export electronic waste (e-waste) or covered devices for recycling or disposal unless they first demonstrate that no “covered in-state recycler” could handle the waste.
A new state law makes it a crime to ship e-waste to a different country, or to another state to be exported—unless the exporter first attempts to find a recycler in California to take the waste. California's governor approved the new e-waste law, SB 568, last month (October 2023).
To export e-waste out of California, the waste handler/exporter must comply with all US and international export laws and satisfy several other new requirements, including:
- Submit a detailed notification to DTSC 60 days in advance.
- Prove that the waste is being exported for recycling or disposal purposes.
- Prove that the e-waste can (and will) be imported legally into the destination country.
- Prove that the e-waste will be managed only at facilities that meet or exceed the environmental/waste management standards of OECD countries—even if the destination country is not an OECD member*.
- Prove that an attempt was made to find a covered in-state recycler to take the waste.
* OECD—the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is an intergovernmental organization with 38 member countries, including the United States of America.
The law builds on the Electronic Waste Recycling Act of 2003 by amending Section 42476.5 of the state’s Public Resources Code.
E-Waste Management in California
“Electronic devices” are covered by California’s state universal waste regulations. The state universal waste regulations cover some very common wastes created by industrial and commercial activities—batteries; light bulbs/lamps; aerosol cans; mercury-containing equipment; and—as photovoltaic or PV modules, i.e., solar panels.
Handlers of e-waste and other universal wastes are excluded from some of the Federal/State hazardous waste management requirements (see 22 CCR 66273.8), provided that the handler follows a few rules.
Those rules include prohibition against disposal. E-waste handlers must also date items and containers, track their inventory of universal waste, and train facility personnel so that they are “thoroughly familiar” with proper universal waste management procedures.
The full text of California's new e-waste law is available online.
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