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EPA Proposes New Notice and Reporting Requirements for Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) Exporters as Part of Broader Effort on E-Waste

Beveridge & Diamond, P.C., March 16, 2012

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) is proposing to expand the requirements for cathode ray tube (CRT) exports to “allow the Agency to better track exports of CRTs for reuse and recycling” and to “gather more information in shipments of CRTs that are sent for reuse.”  In a March 15th Notice in the Federal Register, EPA proposes to clarify which entities are responsible for fulfilling the CRT exporter duties and to institute additional notice and reporting requirements for the export of CRTs for recycling and reuse.  This action is one component of the Administration’s broader effort to control certain e-waste exports, collect more information on exports of used and end-of-life electronic equipment and insure compliance through civil or criminal enforcement actions where appropriate. 

The export requirements in the CRT rule will apply to any “CRT Exporter”, which EPA proposes to define as “any person in the United States who initiates a transaction to send used CRTs outside the United States or its territories for recycling or reuse, or any intermediary in the United States arranging for such export.” For situations with multiple “CRT Exporters,” EPA encourages parties to assign the exporter responsibilities among themselves, but indicates that parties will be jointly and severally liable for failing to comply with the export requirements.

CRTs Exported for Recycling

EPA is proposing to require exporters of used CRTs sent for recycling to file an annual report (in addition to the notice already required), including the quantities, frequency of shipment, and ultimate destination(s) of all CRTs exported for recycling during the previous calendar year. The reports will also include the name, EPA ID number (if applicable), mailing and site address of the CRT exporter, and be accompanied by a signed certification.  EPA seeks to confirm the amount of CRTs actually shipped for recycling (as compared to the notices) and that the shipments “occurred under the terms approved by the receiving country.”  EPA is also proposing to require exporters to state the name and addresses of the recycler or recyclers and the estimated quantity to be sent to each, along with any alternative recyclers.

CRTs Exported for Reuse

EPA is proposing to replace the existing one-time notice requirement for exporters of fully intact CRTs for reuse with a notification for export activities over a twelve month period (or less).  The proposed notice will require detailed information about the exporter, the frequency and amounts of exports, the means of shipment, and various details regarding the point of departure and entry of the CRTs, their ultimate destination and the manner in which they will be reused. The notice will also need to be accompanied by a certification signed by the exporter.  EPA is also considering whether each individual shipment for reuse should be accompanied by a notice; or whether the twelve-month notice will suffice.

EPA is also soliciting comments on whether to require exporters to retain particular types of documents (e.g., contracts, invoices, and/or shipping documents) for purposes of demonstrating that each shipment of exported CRTs will be reused.  Under the existing rules, exporters must keep copies of normal business records demonstrating that each shipment will be reused.

Finally, EPA has also requested comments on whether to require annual reporting for exporters of CRTs for reuse.

“Bare” CRTs

EPA has requested comments on whether “bare” CRTs that have been removed from a monitor whose vacuum has not been released are likely to be exported for recycling and, if so, whether such CRTs should be eligible for the exclusion for processed CRT glass sent for recycling.

Opportunity for Public Comment

Stakeholders who will be impacted by this proposal are encouraged to comment.  Comments, which are due on or before May 14, 2012, can be submitted by a number of methods, including through www.regulations.gov  (Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-RCRA- 2011-1014) and by email to RCRA-docket@epa.gov, Attention Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-RCRA- 2011-1014.  Companies managing cathode ray tubes for export should review the proposed changes to the CRT Rule to ensure compliance with all new reporting and notice requirements once they are finalized.   

Part of Broader Action on E-waste

This CRT proposal is one of a series of actions by the federal government in recent years focused on the management of e-waste.  The Whitehouse Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) has established an Interagency task Force on Electronics Stewardship that is co-chaired by EPA, the General Services Administration (GSA) and CEQ.  As part of this effort, GSA recently announced new requirements governing the recycling and disposal of federal electronic equipment assets.  

EPA has also stepped up enforcement of RCRA rules governing certain waste exports.  This past year marked the first time criminal charges have ever been filed against an exporter of e-waste, and the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice has identified e-waste as a criminal enforcement priority for the near term.  Investigations of used equipment and e-waste export flows are also being undertaken by EPA, the United States International Trade Commission (USITC), and the North American Commission on Environmental Cooperation (CEC).  Legislation has also been introduced in Congress to prohibit the export of hazardous e-waste from the U.S. to developing (non-OECD) countries.  Much of the activity in the U.S. coincides with recent efforts in Europe to expand controls on international shipments of used and end-of-life equipment and ongoing negotiations on the management of used and end-of-life electrical and electronic equipment under the Basel Convention. 

For more information about these developments or Beveridge & Diamond’s e-waste related compliance and litigation practice,  contact Paul Hagen phagen@bdlaw.com, Aaron Goldberg agoldberg@bdlaw.com or Beth Richardson at erichardson@bdlaw.com.  

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