Electronic Waste Recycling Act
(SB 20, 2003, Sher, and SB 50, 2004, Sher)
EWRA was signed into law on September 24, 2003, and amended by SB 50 (Stats. 2004, ch. 863) on September 29, 2004. One of the major objectives of the Electronic Waste Recycling Act, as amended, is to establish a new program for consumers to return, recycle, and ensure the safe and environmentally sound disposal of video display devices, such as televisions and computer monitors, that are hazardous wastes when discarded. On January 1, 2005, California consumers began paying a fee of $6 to $10 at the time they purchase certain video display devices. Those fees are deposited into a special account that is used to pay qualified e-waste collectors and recyclers to cover their costs of managing e-waste.
The Electronic Waste Recycling Act has two main objectives:
- To limit the amount of toxic substances in certain electronic products sold in California:
- The levels of lead, mercury, cadmium, and hexavalent chromium allowed in materials that make up covered electronic devices are limited by California’s Restrictions on the use of Hazardous Substances.
- Manufacturers of covered electronic devices are required to provide information to the CIWMB, demonstrating their efforts to: 1) reduce the levels of toxic substances in electronic devices they produce; 2) increase the use of recyclable materials in their products; and 3) provide outreach programs to consumers (Public Resource Code Section 42465.2).
- To establish a funding system for the collection and recycling of discarded covered electronic devices.
- Retailers are required to collect a fee from the consumer upon the purchase of covered electronic devices. This fee is deposited in an account managed by the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration.
- Upon approval of a payment claim, an approved recycler receives a payment from the Electronic Waste Recycling Account based on the weight of covered electronic devices recycled. An approved recycler is required to pass through a portion of this payment to any approved collectors from which the recycler received e-waste that was included in the payment claim. The first step for a handler or recycler wishing to becoming an approved collector or approved recycler is to notify DTSC at least 30 days prior to operation, and submit an application to CIWMB for approval in the payment program.
Note: Many electronic wastes are not included in the Electronic Waste Recycling Act but are still considered hazardous wastes and may not be discarded in the trash. These electronic wastes are not eligible for payment.
DTSC’s regulations define “electronic device” very broadly as “any electronic device that is identified as hazardous waste.” Some kinds electronic devices are “covered electronic devices” (see the following section), but many more are not. Below are examples of some common electronic devices; this is by no means a complete list.
- CRT devices including older televisions and computer monitors
- LCD desktop computer monitors and laptop computers
- LCD televisions
- Plasma televisions
- Portable DVD players with LCD screens
- Cash registers and oscilloscopes containing CRTs
- Computer keyboards and other peripherals
- Telephones, cell phones, and answering machines
- Stereo equipments, radios, tape and CD players/recorders, phonographs
- Video cassette recorders and calculators
Covered Electronic Devices (CEDs)
A “covered electronic device” (CED) is an electronic device that is covered by the Electronic Waste Recycling Act. The purchaser of a CED pays a fee at the time of purchase, which is used to pay collectors and recyclers of CEDs that are no longer wanted. The law defines a CED as a “a video display device containing a screen greater than 4 inches, measured diagonally, that is identified in the regulations adopted by” DTSC. Any video display device with a screen greater than four inches in size that fits into one of the following categories is a CED:
- Cathode ray tube containing devices (CRT devices)
- Cathode ray tubes (CRTs)
- Computer monitors containing cathode ray tubes
- Laptop computers with liquid crystal display (LCD)
- LCD containing desktop monitors
- Televisions containing cathode ray tubes
- Televisions containing liquid crystal display (LCD) screens
- Plasma televisions
- Portable DVD players with LCD screens
If you plan to export CRT materials or electronic devices, you are required to notify DTSC and the CUPA having jurisdiction over your facility at least 60 days in advance (Title 22 of the California Code of Regulations Section 66273.40). This notification is valid for a period twelve (12) month or less.
Notification must be submitted using our online notification system or using DTSC Form YYY (in development). Hardcopy notifications must be submitted to the Department by certified mail, return receipt requested, at the following address:
Department of Toxic Substances Control
Universal Waste Notification and Reporting Staff
P.O. Box 806,
Sacramento, CA 95812-0806,
Attention: Notification to Export Electronic Devices, CRTs, and/or CRT Glass
Additional documentation must also be submitted depending on what is being exported:
- Used CRTs exported for reclamation- a copy of the notification forwarded by the exporter to USEPA pursuant to 40 Code of Federal Regulations Section 261.39(a)(5)(i) must be included in the notification.
- Used, intact CRTs exported for reuse- a copy of the one time notification submitted by the exporter to the USEPA pursuant to 40 Code of Federal Regulations Section 261.41.9 must be included in the notification.
- A person who exports covered electronic devices/wastes shall also comply with the applicable export requirements of Section 42476.5 of the Public Resources Code by submitting the following documentation to DTSC at the address indicated above.
- Describe the destination, disposition, contents, and volume of the waste, or device intended for recycling or disposal to be exported.
- Demonstrate that the waste or device is being exported for the purposes of recycling or disposal.
- Demonstrate that the importation of the waste or device is not prohibited by an applicable law in the state or country of destination and that any import will be conducted in accordance with all applicable laws. Apart of this demonstration, required import and operating licenses, permits, or other appropriate authorization documents shall be forwarded to the department.
- Demonstrate that the waste or device is in accordance with applicable United States or applicable international law.
- Demonstrate that the waste or device will be managed within the country of destination only at facilities whose operations meet or exceed the binding decisions and implementing guidelines of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development for the environmentally sound management of the waste or device being exported. This demonstration applies to any country of destination, notwithstanding that the country is not a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Please review our guidance documents for more information on the above requirements.
Handler and Recycler
Handler: “A universal waste handler is defined in Section 66273.9 as a 1) generator of universal waste; 2) the owner or operator of a facility that receives waste (including e-waste) from other universal waste handlers, accumulates universal waste, and sends universal waste to another universal waste handler, destination facility, or foreign destination; or 3) the owner or operator of a facility who is authorized to treat universal waste according to Section 66273.71
Recycler: “A handler who performs a treatment to change the composition of electronic devices, CRTs, CRT glass, or residual printed circuit boards. These treatment processes include dismantling electronic devices; removing yokes from CRTs; physical treatment such as cutting, breaking, shredding; physical separation based on properties such as size density, ferromagnetism; use of pinpoint torch/hot wire; and sampling, burning, ball milling.”
Guidance Documents for E-Waste Handlers and Recyclers
A hazardous waste is a waste with properties that make it potentially harmful to human health or the environment. A hazardous waste can be a solid, a liquid, or a contained gas. The criteria for classifying a waste as a hazardous waste are defined in federal and State regulations. A waste that appears on one of five regulatory lists or that exhibits one or more characteristics defined in regulations (toxicity, corrosivity, reactivity, and/or ignitability) is a hazardous waste. For more information on the definition of hazardous waste, please click here.
California universal waste regulations (Chapter 23 of title 22) define an electronic device as “any electronic device that is identified as hazardous waste.” An electronic device that meets this definition can be managed under simple requirements as a universal waste. The person who decides to discard an electronic device is responsible for determining if the device is a hazardous waste, either by sending it to a laboratory for testing or by applying his or her knowledge of the waste. DTSCs Environmental Chemistry Laboratory (ECL) (formerly known as the Hazardous Materials Laboratory) has developed Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for testing e-waste to determine if it is hazardous waste. ECL has determined the concentrations of the regulated elements in various electronic products, which are summarized in this report.
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Handlers who treat or recycle CRT materials or universal waste electronic devices are subject to inspection to verify their compliance with DTSC’s regulations. Typically, the inspection will occur between 30-45 days after submitting your notification. To facilitate efficient, thorough and consistent inspections, DTSC has developed a checklist that summarizes the requirements for various categories of handlers. The checklist reflects the requirements that were in effect at the time it was developed. We are providing it as guidance for handlers who treat or recycle e-waste, but they do not replace or supersede relevant statues and regulations. You should refer to the regulations themselves to determine the requirements that apply to you and to keep appraised of changes.
DTSC Hazardous Materials Laboratory (HML) has developed Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for analyzing e-waste to determine if it is hazardous. The following provide information on these procedures and the results of some of the testing that HML has conducted.