Posts Tagged REM

RERA: a weee chance of US Basel ratification?

Many thanks to Gideon Kracov for pointing this out to me: the proposed Responsible Electronics Recycling Act (a private member’s Bill) would install an EU-type regime on the export of electric and electronic waste outside of the US. The US have signed but not  ratified the Basel Convention : RERA would amount to implementation of the Convention in practice. The Bill also recognises the relevance of recovering the many rare earth materials contained in WEEE.

Here’s the blurb (the official summary of the Bill, in fact):

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Introduced in House (07/23/2013)

Responsible Electronics Recycling Act – Amends the Solid Waste Disposal Act to: (1) prohibit the export of restricted electronic waste to countries that are not members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) or the European Union (EU), or Liechtenstein; (2) require the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop and promulgate procedures for identifying certain electronic equipment as well as additional restricted toxic materials contained in such equipment which poses a potential hazard to human health or the environment; and (3) establish criminal penalties for knowingly exporting restricted electronic waste in violation of this Act. Allows certain exceptions to such export ban.

Defines “restricted electronic waste” to include electronic equipment (excluding parts of a motor vehicle), such as computers, televisions, printers, copiers, video game systems, telephones, and similar used electronic products, that contain cathode ray tubes, batteries, switches, and other parts containing lead, cadmium, mercury, organic solvents, hexavalent chromium, beryllium, or other toxic ingredients.

Requires persons who handle restricted electronic wastes to permit appropriate EPA and state officials access to such wastes upon request.

Directs the Secretary of Energy to establish a competitive research application program to provide grants for research in the recovering and recycling of critical minerals and rare earth elements found in electronic devices.

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Does China – Raw Materials spell the end for OPEC? An eco-centered GATT view on ‘sustainable development’.

Oops, I did it again. A touch too suggestive, perhaps, the title, however the thought did occur to me. OPEC Members increasingly are WTO Members, too. OPEC traditionally is questioned from the competition law /cartel point of view. However there are also anchors in the discipline on export restrictions. Whilst reviewing China – Raw Materials, it occurred to me that China’s reading of GATT Article XX(g)’s ‘conservation of exhaustible natural resources’, reflects the true meaning of the principle of sustainable development: one meeting ecological, economic, and social concerns. The Panel however stayed with the very strict confines of ‘ecological’, refusing to accept the application of XX(g) for ‘conservation’ aimed at ensuring the right pace of economic development. The Panel’s finding on this issue was not appealed, hence one does not know how the Appellate Body would review same.

Within the context of OPEC, the argument has been made that Article XX(g) could be employed by WTO Opec Members to try and justify export restrictions. Not so, if China – Raw Materials is to be followed (China- Rare Earth Elements or Rare Earth Materials most probably will be the first opportunity to review the issues).

My pondering of the case is forthcoming in RECIEL and in the meantime available on SSRN.

Geert.

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