Golden Gate University Environmental Law Journal


When electronic products are improperly disposed of or sent to unregulated recycling sites, the e-waste breaks down in the area without appropriate safeguards. Toxic substances like mercury, lead, and arsenic are then released into the ground, causing soil, water, and air contamination. These e-waste toxins are known to have caused cancer, respiratory illness, and reproductive problems. Also, the chance to reclaim valuable materials and safely recycle the toxic materials is lost forever under the mountain of garbage. Therefore, finding innovative and all-encompassing ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle electronics products is important in solving this e-waste crisis.

As the e-waste crisis grows, the rising mountain of discarded electronic products will quickly outgrow the limited landfills of this world. This Comment examines California’s approach to e-waste recycling and discusses areas of success as well as areas that need to be strengthened. First, this Comment reviews existing California e-waste recycling regulations and addresses where California’s e-waste regulations are inefficient. Then, it covers current federal waste laws and pending e-waste-specific laws. Next, this Comment compares California’s approach with the legislative actions of other states and countries that address the global e-waste crisis. Finally, this Comment recommends ways to reduce and manage e-waste that require minimal effort in order for California to strengthen and improve upon its existing e-waste laws.