It's interesting that Scotland is among the countries getting toughest on e-waste trafficking and out in front with a coordinated, multi-agency effort. Any sense, Rob, if e-waste trafficking has been a particularly acute problem there or any general thoughts on why this country would be able to take the lead over other countries, including the US?
I don't know why -- among European Union countries -- Scotland would stand out. I know that Europe has been famously lax in both WEEE and RoHS enforcement. That is supposedly a trend that is coming to an end.
Here in the United States, we don't have federal laws similar to WEEE or RoHS. We now have about 30 states with WEEE-like take-back laws regarding electronic waste. Some say we don't have federal regulations because the federal government is waiting to see which of the state programs turns out to be the most effective. I also think this country is in no mood for additional environmental regulations.
As far as similar eWaste regulation in the US, I hear you on that last point, Rob. This country is in no mood for additional legislation and fat chance for making a case for federal dollars to fund such a program. It will be interesting to see how and if Scotland's efforts pay off and if any other European countries will follow suit.
Is Scotland using a carrot-and-stick approach, or just the big stick? It would seem to me best to make sur first that you have an excellent infrastructure in place to collect and re-use electrical and electronic waste. And then create incentives to make the system attractive to use.
From what I hear about Europe, the lax enforcement for the first few years of RoHS and WEEE was mainly deliberate. They wanted to the industry to get up to speed on these regulations before enforcement started. It seems Europe now feels the industry should be ready now, and thus we'll probably see more programs similar to Scotland's
Most governments should indded have a lot of things that are far more demanding of their attention, rather than going after those who export such waste to places where it is recycled. Do they really believe that the folks doing the work are so stupid that they don't understand the hazards? Or is it that by forcing waste to go through certain channels, that they profit from it?
As for those ROHS laws, what a way to increse the amount of waste, since the lead free solder joints are not nearly as reliable, and the higher temperatures for the soldering process are harder on components.
Besides all of that, it is far safer and simpler to attack waste haulers than many other types of wrongdoers. It is easy to attack those that nobody likes, we all know that.
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Siemens and Georgia Institute of Technology are partnering to address limitations in the current additive manufacturing design-to-production chain in an applied research project as part of the federally backed America Makes program.
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