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    Puerto Rico to Regulate E-waste?

    By Keith R | July 23, 2008

    Topics: Electronic/Electrical Equipment, Environmental Protection, Waste & Recycling | 1 Comment »

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    A Temas Note: As you know, The Temas Blog is first and foremost about Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). Is Puerto Rico (PR) part of LAC? Many don’t include it in their classification of LAC because of its ties to the US. Others do, citing its geographic location and its sociocultural ties to Spanish-speaking LAC. My own feeling is that if it was not under US jurisdiction, there would be no debate. In this particular case, I choose to discuss what PR is doing because I believe that there is some chance that its example may be studied and copied elsewhere in the region.

    While many in the North American electronics industry have been focusing their attention on bills regarding waste electronics in states such as Hawaii, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma and Rhode Island, legislation has moved forward in a US jurisdiction that is not a state, Puerto Rico (PR) — catching some in the industry by surprise. On 23 June the lower house of PR’s legislature, the Chamber of Representatives, approved an e-waste bill.

    The bill now goes on to the Puerto Rican Senate for its consideration. Will it pass there? Some in industry say no way, but then again, some of those same people told me the same thing about the Chamber of Representatives 2-3 years ago when I wondered aloud then about the PR e-waste bill…


    The product and component coverage of the bill is quite broad. It covers cathode ray tubes (CRTs), “cellular equipment” and “electronic equipment.” What are considered to be “cellular equipment” for the purposes of this bill? As presently defined, this category includes:

    The bill specifically excludes from “cellular equipment” wireless systems for vehicles (such as OnStar) and wi-fi cards and sticks to link computers to a wireless network.

    What is considered “electronic equipment”? As presently drafted, the bill defines this category to cover all equipment with integrated circuits or transistors, including:

    The bill makes clear that “electronic equipment” does not encompass motor vehicles, boats, aircraft, farm or manufacturing equipment, nor kitchen, refrigeration or household or commercial laundry devices. It also does not apply to power cables, communication cables or antennas that do not contain processors.

    Key Bill Provisions of the Bill

    1. Landfill Ban: CRTs and cellular and electronic equipment would be banned from landfills;
    2. Take-Back Participation Requirement: Anyone wishing to import, sell or distribute cellular or electronic equipment must prove that they participate in a Recycling and Disposal Plan approved by the Solid Waste Authority (Autoridad de Desperdicios SólidosADS) and the Environmental Quality Board (Junta de Calidad AmbientalJCA). Enterprises could either have their own plan or participate in a consortium or “association” of enterprises and/or industries.
    3. Registration, Reporting, E-Waste Processing Fee: All manufacturers, importers and distributors of cellular or electronic equipment sold in PR would have to register with the JCA and annually provide certain data, proof of their participation in an approved Recycling and Disposal Plan, and proof of payment of the “electronic waste processing fee”. As currently drafted, the initial fee would be US$5,000 each, in subsequent years would be calculated based on a “market participation quota” formula.
    4. Retailer Obligations: All retailers of cellular and electronic equipment would be required to obtain from manufacturers, importers or distributors proof that they are properly registered with the JCA. All retailers of cellular and electronic equipment would have to provide consumers with information on the benefits of recycling and “opportunities provided by industry and/or [the ADS] for this process.” They would also have to “promote and provide incentive” for recycling.
    5. E-Waste Classification: The JCA would have to classify end-of-life electronic equipment as “special waste” and set regulations for their management, disposition, reuse and recycling in Puerto Rico, “fixing requisites that they deem necessary in order to protect human health and the environment.”
    6. Environmental Licensing: All collection, storage, recycling, processing or final disposition would be subject to environmental licensing, and the JCA could modify or revoke licenses if it feels it needs to. The JCA could impose fines of up to US$25,000 per infraction.
    7. Studies and Programs: The ADS, in cooperation with registered manufacturers, importers and distributors, and collectors and processors, would have to prepare a study characterizing the e-waste market in PR, as well as a general strategy for the management of cellular and electronic equipment and CRTs. The Authority also would be in charge of designing a program for “orphan equipment”.
    8. Conditions on Returns, Passing on Costs to Consumers: All collection centers that are part of an approved Plan of a particular manufacturer, importer or distributor would be obliged to take back the end-of-life equipment manufactured, imported, distributed, sold or offered for lease by them or by other enterprises in the e-waste consortium to which they belong, regardless of the date when the consumer bought the equipment. The consumer cannot be charged for this service at the time of return.
      Retailers operating an e-waste return center can limit free return to their center to the brands they sold or leased, or to those of other origin only when the consumer is acquiring new equipment through that retailer. Retailers operating return centers can incorporate into the bill for purchases of new equipment some of the cost of operating the center, minus the anything related to their registration fees with the JCA.
    9. Exports: Any export of e-waste would be subject to a licensing procedure under the JCA.
    10. No Laxer Protection: Neither the JCA nor the ADS shall authorize any e-waste program based on transporting the collected waste to be disposed or destroyed without processing to a jurisdiction with less strict laws or regulations. They also are not to approve programs that consist of only collection, disassembly and storage, or any process deemed contrary to health and environmental protection.

    Important Note: Currently, most of these provisions have a deadline in the bill of January 2008. This obviously has to be changed in the Senate (unless the legislature really intends to have retroactive application, which I seriously doubt); the question is to what target date.

    Should the Puerto Rican Senate Pass This Bill Too?

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    One Response to “Puerto Rico to Regulate E-waste?”

    1. Neriann Gracia Says:

      Hi Im student from University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez. I want to know if in Puerto Rico are people that can give a conference to the University of E-waste and the problems to the ecosystem. Thanks I will wait for your response!

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