By Keith R | June 1, 2008
Last month, while The Temas Blog was still on hiatus, the central Brazilian state of Mato Grosso (MT) became the first Latin American jurisdiction to pass a specific law on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), or “technological trash” (lixo tecnológico) as Brazilians tend to call it.* The new law creates a take-back regime and makes manufacturers and importers of WEEE responsible for setting up in the state systems for the recycling, reuse, treatment and/or final disposition of their end-of-life (EOL) products. It’s worth taking a look at the law, as it is likely to be studied and used as a model for bills introduced in other state legislatures.
For the purposes of the Law, “technological trash” is defined as obsolete or damaged computer equipment, or “leftovers of consumer electronic devices that are discarded, obsolete or out-of-use, which can be reused or contain integrated into their structure, chemical elements harmful to the environment and to humans, but still can be recycled.” The Law specified that it covers computers, informatics equipment, batteries and piles, televisions and monitors, microwave ovens, photographic machines, fluorescent lamps and “electro-electronics.”
Consumers/users are to return damaged, obsolete or out-of-use “technological trash” to the establishments that sell them or technical assistance networks authorized by manufacturers, who are required to take back EOL products similar to those that they market. Manufacturers and importers of products sold in MT that become “technological trash” are required to adopt, either under their direct administration or through third parties, systems for the recycling, reuse, treatment or “environmentally adequate” final disposition.
Products that can be reused (perhaps with fixing) are to be earmarked for “social ends” such as donating them to schools and technical training centers. EOL products found not to contain hazardous elements, or are stripped of such elements, can be disposed of in sanitary landfills that permit it. EOL products that cannot be recycled, reused or put into landfills must undergo “thermal destruction” that obeys all the restrictions of the mandatory Brazilian norm on incineration of hazardous waste set by the Brazilian Standards Association (ABNT), NBR-11175, and the applicable air pollution standards set by the National Environment Council (CONAMA).
All transport, treatment and final disposition activities associated with “technological trash” are subject to prior environmental licensing by the State Environment Secretariat (SEMA).
The responsibility (liability) for measures to prevent or correct pollution or contamination due to spillage, leakage, dumping or inadequate disposal of “technological trash” shall be shared by manufacturers, importers, vendors of products that become such wastes, and any third party that might be assigned the task of transporting, treating or disposing of the equipment.
* Some general waste laws at the state level in Brazil and Mexico include provisions on WEEE.
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