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Subject: Re: E-Waste
From: "Lamont, Laura D [CC]" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Records Management Program <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 3 Oct 2003 15:59:19 -0500
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As a former EPA records manager, I can tell you that many old landfills (and the majority of them ARE old) were created long before modern technology figured out how to make landfills leakproof OR that they shouldn't be placed next to a water source or in a flood plain.   And even modern technology fails sometimes.  Most of the danger from lead in landfills is that it leaches into the groundwater, not that it is eaten by some beastie.  And once it becomes detectable, then the EPA steps in and tries to figure out who sent the contaminants to the landfill so they can get somebody else to pay for the cleanup.  They check out the records, and then just take a look at the industry in the area.  Everyone is a suspect.  If you can prove you didn't send anything, then normally you're okay.  If you can't prove that you had no part in the lead contamination (like where the heck DID we send those 50 computers we got rid of 5 years ago) then you will eventually end up owing money to the government for the cleanup.  It would be easier in the long run just not to have the problem.

And yes, lead is a natural element, but that doesn't mean it doesn't cause problems in its natural environment.  Here in the midwest we have multiple areas which have extensive contamination - air, water and soil - from lead mining.


-----Original Message-----
From: Roach, Bill J. [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Friday, October 03, 2003 3:31 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: E-Waste


>>Some monitors contain as much as seven pounds of lead. With the volume
e-waste expected to quadruple in the next several years, our environment is
in serious peril.<<

Seeing it is Friday afternoon and we have not had hardly anything
controversial this week to discuss, how about this? ;^)

Could someone explain to me how lead in a landfill causes serious
environmental peril?  At seven pounds a pop it would be rather obvious to me
that birds will not swallow it and fish won't eat it.  Nor is likely to be
nibbled on by any rug rats that are lurking about.  Landfills are supposed
to be sealed against leakage so ground water contamination shouldn't be the
problem.  And if I remember my periodic table correctly, lead is an element,
meaning that all of the lead disposed in a landfill used to be someplace
else.

The last thing we need is for the federal government to step in and make
recycling mandatory.  Before the fur starts flying, consider this.  My
parents back in Minnesota are required to recycle their household waste.
This means separating their glass, plastic, cardboard, newsprint and
cardboard into separate containers for pickup.  The local service that picks
up the waste makes two pickups every week.  One for the recyclables and the
other for the trash.  Then they take both loads to the same landfill and
bury the whole shooting match.  If my parents don't recycle they can be
fined and penalties added to their property taxes.  Recycling in northern
Minnesota or in much of the Midwest is not cost effective.  Transportation
of materials to market cost far more than their value.

My problem is this.  People are often quick to suggest that the feds come up
with some standard that applies to everyone to protect us.  Unfortunately,
the result is an ill thought out regulation that they end up making sense
only to the individual that came up with it.  Someone the lives next to a
school may think that a 15 mph speed limit is a great idea.  In North
Dakota, we just raised our speed limit on the interstate to 75 mph.  Neither
one would make a good standard for everyone to follow.  Neither does a
federal mandate to recycle electronic parts.

The opinions expressed are my own, and I am proud of them.

Bill R

-----Original Message-----
From: Robert Thys [mailto:[log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]> ]
Sent: Friday, October 03, 2003 12:14 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: E-Waste


Thought this would be of interest to everybody:

Electronic waste (e-waste) processing is part of a product lifecycle.
Therefore, IT managers need to budget for a recycling fee when purchasing
new PCs.
   According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 4.6 tons of
e-waste were added to U.S. landfills in 2000 as a result of millions of PCs,
monitors, cell phones, and personal digital assistants being discarded. One
of the dangers of landfill e-waste is the presence of lead in many old
monitors. Some monitors contain as much as seven pounds of lead. With the
volume e-waste expected to quadruple in the next several years, our
environment is in serious peril.
   The bottom line is that cost-effective ways are needed to dispose of
e-waste and businesses will be required to pay some of the costs. There is
no national mandate for the collection and handling of e-waste in the United
States but significant measures have recently been taken on the state level
that bear monitoring. Currently, there are more than 24 bills before various
state and city legislatures regarding the handling of e-waste.
    On Sept. 25, Governor Gray Davis of California signed legislation
creating the first e-waste  recycling program in the United States. The
Electronic Waste Recycling Act of 2003 will require California consumers to
pay a $6 to $10 fee on the purchase of computer monitors and televisions to
fund a statewide recycling infrastructure. The law will take effect in July
2004. The University of Oregon's two-year-old Computer Harvest program
recycles old computers on campus. University Environmental Manager Nick
Williams said that through the program, the University saved 6.5 tons of
cathode-ray tube glass, five tons of metal and miles of wire from landfills.
   The complex issues involved in the collection, handling, recycling, and
costs of e-waste in the United States will more than likely require federal
legislation to be effectively dealt with. This legislation will need to
reflect the shared responsibility among manufacturers, consumers,
governments, and the recycling industry. In the meantime, state and local
governments will regulate the handling locally of e-waste disposal with the
increasing costs being passed on to the consumer.

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