Closing Shop

A GROUP OF ELECTRONICS manufacturers, government officials and environmental organizations that had hoped to develop a national system for recycling electronic waste (e-waste) apparently will not accomplish its goal. No further meetings of the National Electronics Product Stewardship Initiative (NEPSI) have been scheduled because of manufacturers' inability to agree on a financing system, says Catherine Wilt, NEPSI project coordinator.

Wilt, the director of policy for the Center for Clean Products and Clean Technologies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tenn., says she is preparing the initiative's final report.

NEPSI drafted a proposal in which an e-waste recycling and collection system would be initially funded by a fee paid by consumers when they purchased electronic equipment. Eventually, the fee would be eliminated, and governments and manufacturers would internalize the costs, Wilt says.

Yet there was a disagreement among NEPSI's electronics industry members — which include the Electronic Industries Alliance, Panasonic, Hewlett Packard and about a dozen other firms — on the advanced recovery fee, according to Wilt. A minority of the manufacturers “instead wanted the flexibility to meet similar national system goals through their own programs,” she says.

More than one year ago, NEPSI's electronics industry members agreed to try to reach a compromise on the advance fee. Because of the lack of an agreement, Wilt has decided there will be no more stakeholder meetings.

NEPSI was formed in 2001 and its members also included recycling companies and retailers.