United States – The US Institute for Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) has warned that proposed changes to the country’s Toxic Substance Control Act could serve as an obstacle to recycling.
The updated Act seeks to place stricter requirements on companies intending to either import, manufacture or process products containing hazardous polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). Parties are expected to notify the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at least 90 days in advance to give the body the opportunity to review and potentially limit or entirely prohibit the proposed use of PBDE-containing materials.
Additionally, companies will be expected to conduct testing on the health and environmental effects of their activities, the results of which are to be submitted directly to the EPA. The agency claims this is necessary to ensure no dangerous substances ‘leak into the environment’.
As these substances are common in old electronics, vehicles and even textiles, ISRI fears that the recycling industry will be adversely affected by these measures and that far-reaching economic consequences will ensue. According to ISRI’s Director of Environmental Management David Wagger, even a simple task like cleaning a lap-top for reuse could fall under the regulation as some devices of this type contain PBDEs.
Considering that the recycling industry neither manufactures nor adds PBDEs to any materials or products, Mr Wagger reasons, it should not be forced to bear a ‘regulatory burden’ because they are already present in the value chain. The organisation also argues that the recycling facilities required to report are ‘unlikely to provide much useful additional information to EPA’.
Having federal- as well as state-level policies in place that promote the recycling of PBDE-containing materials while simultaneously introducing impeding rules regarding this activity can only be viewed as contradictory, ISRI also contends.
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