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Supervisors Adopt E-Stewards Recycling Ordinance for the Unincorporated County

Electronic Waste Collection Activities Required to Use Certified Recyclers; Recyclers Encouraged to Become Certified

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. – This week, the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors voted to adopt the e-Stewards Recycling Ordinance which regulates e-waste collection in the unincorporated area and encourages proper management of electronic waste.

“Many County residents drop off their e-waste at private recycling drives organized by schools and charities,” said Supervisor Liz Kniss, District 5, who initiated the ordinance. “These residents believe that they are doing the right thing by recycling their e-waste. However, there is no way for residents to be sure that their e-waste will be ultimately recycled in a safe and globally responsible manner unless it goes to an e-Steward recycler. I’m proud that Santa Clara County is the first government in the nation to take this step.”

The ordinance requires all electronic waste collection activities in the unincorporated county, including curbside and drop-off recycling, to use e-waste recyclers that are participants or certified in the e-Stewards Initiative.

“The e-Stewards Recycling Ordinance is the right thing to do to ensure proper disposal of used electronic devices,” said President Dave Cortese, County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors. “This is an important step that the County is taking to protect our environment, workers and communities.”

About e-Stewards Initiative
The e-Stewards Initiative is a program created by the Basel Action network, a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization. All e-Stewards recyclers are committed to using best environmentally sound practices for the disposal of e-waste which include the following:

  • no disposal in landfills or incinerators;
  • environmentally safe working conditions;
  • no prison labor; and
  • no export to developing nations where e-waste is either dumped in landfills, incinerated, or dismantled and handled by the young, the elderly and the socioeconomically disadvantaged.

How to become e-Stewards certified
In order to become e-Stewards certified, recyclers must meet the following requirements:

  • attain International Standards Organization 14001 certification;
  • maintain an annual licensing agreement with Basel Action Network; and
  • audited by one of the four independent auditing agencies qualified by Basel Action Network on an annual basis.

Cost to businesses
The direct cost to businesses to become e-Stewards certified varies depending on the size and complexity of the operation and can be broken down into three categories: internal preparation costs; auditing costs; marketing and licensing fees. The County’s Household Hazardous Waste Program recycler is investing approximately $37,500 per facility to complete the certification process and expects to spend approximately $19K per year per facility to maintain the certification.

“My staff has met with a number of local businesses to talk about the ordinance over the past few months,” said Kevin O’Day, Director of the County’s Department of Agriculture and Environmental Management. “It’s encouraging to see that local e-waste recyclers began initiating actions to become certified even before the ordinance was passed.”

County staff has conducted an extensive outreach to the local communities in anticipation to the Supervisors’ consideration of the ordinance. Businesses and communities have received phone calls and letters from the County about the ordinance. The adoption of the e-Stewards Recycling Ordinance by the Board is expected to encourage more local e-waste recyclers to obtain e-Stewards certification. Currently, there are four recyclers in Santa Clara County, none of which are in the unincorporated areas.

The ordinance will become effective on January 1, 2012.

Contact: Gwendolyn Mitchell/Lingxia Meng, Office of Public Affairs (408) 299-5119; Rob D’Arcy, Department of Environmental Management (408) 918-1967
Posted: June 23, 2011