Cheat-Seeking Missles

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

E-Waste: Another Green Fraud

Every day in California, up to $100,000 flows out of consumer pockets and into an e-waste recycling program that purportedly protects us from lead and other toxic compounds in our retired laptops, monitors and TVs. One problem: Our esteemed legislature acted based on voodoo science and green hysteria, also known as business as usual.

Writing in the OC Register, Dana Joel Gattuso of the Competitive Enterprise Institute finds:

Nor is there any scientific evidence that e-waste in landfills presents a health risk. Landfills are built today with thick, puncture-resistant liners that keep waste from coming into contact with soil and groundwater. Timothy Townsend of the University of Florida, a leading expert on the effects of electronic waste in landfills, conducted tests in 2003 on 11 municipal landfills containing e-waste from TV and computer monitors, along with other solid waste. He and his associate Yong-Chul Jang found concentrations of lead far below the safety standard and less than 1 percent of what EPA's lab tests had predicted. "There is no compelling evidence," according to Townsend, that e-waste buried in municipal landfills presents a health risk. ...

The real problem is for state lawmakers who, based on misplaced fears, banned TVs and PCs from municipal landfills in 2001 and now don't know where to put the mounting discards. But mandated recycling is not the answer. The costs, ultimately passed on to consumers in the form of taxes and higher purchase prices, are staggering - $500 a ton of e-waste to recycle versus $40 a ton to landfill.