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New Poison PCs report: Billion Dollar Cost to Taxpayers



[Listmanager note: FYI re. this report. The sender is not a P2Tech subscriber.]

For immediate release:
June 19, 2001

For more information,
Ted Smith, 408-287-6707x305
Leslie Byster, 408-287-6707x303
online info: http://www.svtc.org

NEWS ADVISORY

REPORT ON ELECTRONICS WASTE REVEALS BILLION DOLLAR COST TO TAXPAYERS;
San Jose City Councilmember Chavez Responds with Call for State Action to 
Protect San Jose's Environment and Budget

San Jose City Council member Cindy Chavez will introduce a resolution 
before the San Jose City Council calling for immediate state action to
regulate computer wastes.

"Local taxpayers are not in a position to shoulder the staggering costs of 
cleaning up hazardous wastes found in personal computers and monitors.  We
need a collaborative effort involving local and state government, 
high-tech, and other stakeholders. said Chavez.

A recent announcement by the California Department of Toxics and Substance 
Control which clarified  that it is illegal to dispose of televisions and
computer monitors in municipal landfills has sent  cities throughout the 
state scrambling to find alternative methods of collecting  and recycling
computer and electronic waste.

The high-tech industry, environmentalists and government must work together 
to find solutions to the imminent environmental crisis caused by
e-waste.  Failing to do so threatens our natural resources and our local 
economy, warned Chavez.

The action accompanies the release of a new report, Poison PCs and Toxic 
TVs: The Biggest Environmental Crisis You Never Heard Of. (A pdf copy of
the report can be found at http://www.svtc.org/)

The report details the growing piles of electronic waste in the US, the 
toxics contained in computers and monitors, the hazards of improper
disposal and estimates a cost to California taxpayers of almost $1 billion 
for handling e-wastes that consumers and businesses will throw away.

****************************
WHEN:  Tuesday, June 19, 11:30 AM
WHERE: San Jose City Hall, 801 N. First Street
WHO:  City Council Members: Cindy Chavez, Chuck Reed, and    Ted Smith,
Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition
PHOTO OP:  Obsolete electronic waste, including materials designated as
hazardous waste by the State Department of Toxics Control
********************************

We're sitting on top of a gigantic e-wasteberg , and in order to find 
solutions, the manufacturers of computers must take life-cycle
responsibility for their products, said Ted Smith, Executive Director of 
Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, one of the lead authors of the new report.
They need to re-design their products to phase out the toxic materials and 
make computers and monitors recyclable.  They should take the lead on
recycling programs,  not the taxpayer.

"Silicon Valley is the epicenter of the high-tech revolution," said Smith. 
Our communities have borne the environmental costs and toxic legacy of
high-tech production. Taxpayers must not now be burdened with the costs of 
disposing of e-waste."

The report, Poison PCs and Toxic TVs is being released this week in San 
Jose,  Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento, where local elected
leaders are also introducing resolutions to protect their communities 
against the costs of cleaning up toxic computers.

The report found that:

-- More than 6,000 computers become obsolete in California every day. They 
are either tossed out with the trash or stored.  Consumers have, on
average, 2 to 3 obsolete computers in their garages, closets or storage 
spaces. US government researchers estimate that three-quarters of all
computers ever sold in the United States remain stockpiled, awaiting disposal.

-- According to EPA, in 1997, more than 3.2 million tons of e-waste ended 
up in US landfills. European studies estimate that the volume of
electronic waste is rising by 3% to 5% per year, almost three times faster 
than the municipal waste stream.  Today, e-waste could represent as much as
5% of municipal solid waste disposal. That's more than beverage containers, 
more than disposable diapers, and about the same level as all plastic
packaging.

-- A March 21, 2001 letter from the California Department of Toxic 
Substances Control affirming that the cathode ray tubes (CRT=92s) in
  computer monitors and television sets are hazardous waste and therefore 
banned from landfills. Each computer or television display contains an 
average of 4 to 8 pounds of lead. The 315 million computers that will 
become obsolete between 1997 and 2004 contain a total of more than 1.2 
billion pounds of
  lead.

-- The infrastructure for properly handling electronic waste either for 
recycling or disposal is grossly inadequate and needs immediate
improvement and expansion. The National Safety Council reported in 1999 
that only 11% of discarded computers were recycled, compared with 28% of
overall municipal solid waste. In California, estimates of computer 
recycling range from 5% to 15%, compared to a 42% rate for overall solid
waste and 70% rate for major appliances like refrigerators, washing 
machines, and dryers.

-- Properly managing just one component of electronic waste obsolete 
computer monitors and television setscarries a potential price tag of $500 
million to over one billion dollars over the next 5 years in California alone.

Later this week, at the National Electronics Product Stewardship Initiative 
meeting in San Francisco, California Integrated Waste Management Board
Member, Mike Paparian, and representatives from eleven other states 
including Massachusetts, Minnesota and Florida will meet with computer
manufacturers to discuss how to solve the crisis and who will pay the high 
cost of keeping toxic computer and electronic waste out of the municipal
waste stream.

The report was produced by Californians Against Waste, a statewide lobbying 
group on recycling issues; Materials for the Future Foundation, working
with communities on economic development through recycling;  the Silicon 
Valley Toxics Coalition, an environmental justice group raising issues
regarding the high tech industry; and Green Capitol, an environmental group 
seeking to protect taxpayers from industry and government waste.

Leslie Byster
Communications Director
Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition
International Campaign for Responsible Technology
760 N. First Street
San Jose, CA 95112
Phone: 408-287-6707
Fax: 408-287-6771
http://www.svtc.org
e-mail:  svtc@svtc.org