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Action Alert to Save Producer Responsibility...
Don't Trade Away our Health and the Environment!
Your immediate assistance is needed to defend an important new
initiative that will help protect environmental health and safety by
persistent, bio-accumulative toxics and by cleaning up the life
cycle of computer manufacturing and other electronic and electrical
This new "take-back" Directive, developed by the European
Commission, focuses on Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment
is designed to address the growing piles of electronic junk. Besides
phasing out toxic chemicals, the directive will require producers of
electronic and electrical equipment to assume financial and legal
for their products throughout their entire life cycle; it also
establishes a framework for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).
However, the US Trade Representative (USTR) -- at the request of the
American Electronics Association (AEA), the largest trade
association of the electronics industry with more than 3000 members -- is
a new lobbying attack on the WEEE Directive.
The AEA is using international trade law as a weapon to dictate
global health and environmental policy to protect the economic interests of
its members (Microsoft, Intel, IBM, Motorola, etc.). In a 15 page legal
position paper, the AEA asserts the proposed phase-out of the listed
persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic materials -- lead, mercury,
cadmium, hexavalent chromium and halogenated flame retardants -- and the
provision requiring at least 5% recycled plastics in electronic and
products are "illegal" and violate World Trade Organization (WTO)
Rather than working to defend and protect our health and environment,
the USTR staff is supporting the AEA's position in discussions with other
US and international agencies.
European NGOs such as the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), ANPED
(the Northern Alliance for Sustainability) and other environmental health
and consumer organizations in Europe have asked us to help protect the
WEEE Directive. By supporting their initiative, we are fighting for
improved global standards for everyone. If adopted in Europe, this Directive
will help our efforts for similar legislation in the US to reduce toxics
and promote clean production. It is crucial that US activists involved in
toxics, waste, recycling, incineration, corporate accountability,
consumer advocacy, international trade, human rights and/or democracy issues
make our voices heard before the US government adopts the myopic views of
the U.S. computer industry on these important environmental issues.
TAKE ACTION. Time is of the essence. With the intensive lobbying
efforts of the electronics industry, the US is formulating its position to
oppose this directive. Please take a few moments to fax or send a letter on
your own letterhead to Vice-President Gore and tell him to bring an
immediate halt to the USTR's lobbying activities. You can use the enclosed
text as a model. Please also send (or e-mail) a copy to Silicon Valley
Toxics Coalition (email@example.com or fax 408-287-6771). We will add your name
to the action alert on our website. We may also publish ads in national
media. Thanks very much for your support.
For additional background on this issue:
**find a copy of the letter to Pres. Clinton and signatories at
**find a copy of the letter to the European Commission at
**find a copy of the draft directive on our website at
**view the position of the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) at
**view the position of the AEA at
White House Fax Line - 202-456-2461
Vice President Gore's e-mail - firstname.lastname@example.org
USTR - Ms. Charlene Barshefsky, US Trade Representative - fax
202-395-3911; e-mail: email@example.com
US EPA - Ms. Carol Browner, Administrator - fax: 2002-260-0279;
To contact your senators - http://www.senate.gov/senator/index.html
To contact your representative - http://www.house.gov/writerep/
Dear Vice-President Gore:
We are writing to request your immediate assistance to help defend an
important environmental initiative, the draft European Commission
Directive on Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE).
This draft directive -- which is designed to address the growing problem
of obsolete electronic equipment -- will help protect environmental
health and safety on both sides of the Atlantic by phasing out some of the
worst toxic chemicals, cleaning up the life-cycle of computer
manufacturing, promoting Producer Responsibility and encouraging similar
Production initiatives outside Europe, particularly within the United States.
However, rather than defending and protecting our health and
environment, the US Trade Representative (USTR) is lobbying on behalf of the
electronics industry to oppose this directive as a barrier to
international trade. We ask that you intervene to put an immediate
stop to the USTR's lobbying activities.
We have learned that the American Electronics Association (AEA) --
whose members include Microsoft, Intel, IBM, and Motorola -- is using
international trade law as a weapon to dictate global health and
environmental policy. In a 15 page legal position paper, the AEA
asserts that various provisions of the WEEE are "illegal" under international
trade law and, therefore, violate World Trade Organization (WTO)
In his March 15, 1999 statement at a high-level WTO symposium on
trade and the environment, President Clinton said, "We must do more to ensure
that spirited economic competition among nations never becomes a race to
the bottom. We should be leveling environmental protections up, not
down." The draft WEEE directive is an excellent opportunity to place these
words into action.
We urge you to join us in working to make sure that weaker
environmental standards are not forced upon the European Union by unfair
trade laws. At stake in this controversy are three vital environmental
1. Producers must be ultimately responsible for their products. The
WEEE Directive's premise is that the producer of all electronic products
and electrical equipment must be financially responsible for managing
their products throughout their lifecycle, including at the end of life.
The public should not have to pay extra taxes for waste management costs
of hazardous materials that producers choose to use in electrical and
2. Trade Associations must not be allowed to dictate environmental
health policy. It is vital to support the WEEE directive's provisions for
encouraging the recycling of plastics and phasing out toxic chemicals
that are persistent in the environment and known health hazards. We must
leel environemtnal standards up, not down. This will help clean up the
entire product chain, alleviate worker health problems, and reduce hazardous
emissions to the environment not only in Europe, but in America as
3. U.S. policy must represent all of us, not just large corporations. The
USTR has no right to lobby on behalf of corporations against the
interests of the American public. We are offended to learn that the U.S.
Representative (USTR) and the American Electronics Association (AEA)
are using the World Trade Organization (WTO) to undermine important and
beneficial environmental initiatives.
The USTR is pushing the US government to take a position opposing
this regulation behind closed doors and without the benefit of public
notice and comment period required for proposed new regulations under US
laws. Since US law requires that the federal government involve the public
in setting domestic environmental standards, surely the federal
government should also involve the public before attacking the positive
environmental standards of other countries that will directly benefit the
We call on you to reign in USTR's interference in the legitimate
environmental decisions of the European Commission. Given the direct
health and environmental impacts of the WEEE Directive on both sides
of the Atlantic, the US government should refrain from any further
official comment on this initiative until it has consulted all interested
parties through public notice and comment rule-making procedures.
(please add your name and organization here)
cc: USTR Representative Charlene Barshefsky
EPA Administrator Carol Browner
ANPED The Northern Alliance for Sustainability
P.O. Box 12111
3501 AC UTRECHT
Tel. +31 (0)30 2310300
Fax +31 (0)30 2340878
visiting address: Oudegracht 312, 3511 PK Utrecht
Ogolnopolskie Towarzystwo Zagospodarowania Odpadow "3R"
Waste Prevention Association "3R"
ul. Slawkowska 12, 31-014 Krakow, Poland
tel./fax: (+48 12) 422-22-64, 422-21-47
NGO db: http://gemini.most.org.pl/catalog_ngo/