Rachel's Precaution Reporter #22
Wednesday, January 25, 2006

From: Rachel's Precaution Reporter #22 ...................[This story printer-friendly]
January 25, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: Now you can explain the precautionary principle to your neighbors or your church group, using this simple, clear slide show, which you can grab off the web free of charge.]

A classy, free PowerPoint slide show is now available and it has everything you need to put on a show for your neighbors or your church, including a script that you can read while showing the slides.

It was prepared by the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ -- Lois Gibbs's group in Falls Church, Va.; Tel. 703-237-2249; and see http://www.chej.org/ and http://www.besafenet.com/).

The slide show is available on the web in 7 parts. The slides themselves are available in two forms -- as PowerPoint, and in Microsoft Word so you can take them to a photocopy shop and get them copied onto acetate overheads if you want them in that format.

The slide show is also available on a CD from CHEJ: Tel. 703-237-2249.

This is a FABULOUS resource. --Peter Montague

Get all seven parts off the web here:

a. The slides in PowerPoint format (1.2 megabytes). b. The slides in Microsoft Word format. c. Some hints and instructions for putting on the show. d. An introduction for presenters. e. A script you can read while showing the slides. f. A sign-in sheet for those who attend the show. g. An evaluation form for participants to give you feedback.


From: Portland (Maine) Press Herald ......................[This story printer-friendly]
January 18, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: We don't know 100% for sure that discarding old electronic gear into the natural environment will harm anything -- but there's a lot of evidence that it might. Such a situation calls for precautionary action -- specifically, "extended producer responsibility," which the state of Maine has adopted.]

By Tom Bell

A new law goes into effect today that makes Maine the first state in the nation to require manufacturers to pick up the cost of recycling old TVs and computer monitors.

Environmentalists say the law will encourage manufacturers to design products that are less toxic and easier to recycle. They hope other states will follow Maine's example.

"It's a very pioneering approach in this country," said Sego Jackson, a county planner in Washington state, which is considering similar legislation. "The Maine legislation has been breakthrough legislation for the United States. It points us in a different direction."

There is growing concern nationally about the cascade of out-of-date electronic equipment being buried in landfills or burned in incinerators. Each computer or TV monitor contains about 5 pounds of lead, as well as mercury, cadmium and other toxic chemicals. Flat panel TVs and monitors don't have lead but contain mercury.

European governments and Japan for years have required manufacturers to pay for recycling electronics and some appliances, but the United States has been reluctant to do so, making disposal a responsibility of local governments and local taxpayers.

In the United States, only California has a significant electronic waste recycling program. But California's program is different from Maine's. The Golden State collects an up-front disposal fee at the store when products are purchased and then distributes the money to pay recycling costs.

Environmentalists hope other states follow Maine, not California.

Maine's system is market-based. Manufacturers pay for the cost of sorting and recycling, based on what is actually thrown away, paying up to 42 cents a pound.

Maine's way is better because it gives manufactures an incentive to design their products so they can be recycled more easily, said Jon Hinck, an attorney with the Natural Resources Council of Maine.

"As you look around the United States and see activity on the electronic waste issue, many of the best measures are inspired by the Maine approach," Hinck said.

The Maine Legislature passed the measure two years ago. The law makes cities and towns responsible for setting up collection times and sites and shipping the items to one of five "consolidators" chosen by the state.

The consolidators sort the items, identify the manufacturer of each item and send a bill to the manufacturer for the cost of recycling, handling and transporting the item.

In the past, many Maine towns have struggled to find a way to dispose of electronic equipment, said Michael Starn of the Maine Municipal Association. He said the new law will be a big help.

By making it less costly for municipalities to get rid of old TVs and computer monitors, more of the items will be recycled rather than buried in landfills, said Carole Cifrino, an environmental specialist with the state's Division of Solid Waste Management.

The law's greatest significance is that more populous states are using it as a template for their own measures, said Barbara Kyle, campaign coordinator for the Computer TakeBack Campaign, based in San Jose, Calif.

About 15 states are looking at taking Maine's approach, and bills have been introduced in Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Washington, Wisconsin and New York City, Kyle said.

"This model of producer responsibility is really significant," she said. "Manufacturers are paying, not the taxpayers, so it's not a taxpayer burden."

Washington state is looking at creating similar program. But that state's legislation is even more stringent, requiring manufacturers to pick up cost of collecting the items as well.

Staff Writer Tom Bell can be contacted at 623-1031 or at: tbell@pressherald.com

Copyright 2006 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.


From: Environmental Science & Technology ..............[This story printer-friendly]
January 18, 2006


Canadian cities successfully by-pass industry's legal challenge to laws that keep pesticides off lawns and gardens.

[Rachel's introduction: Several Canadian cities have passed precautionary laws in recent years, banning the cosmetic use of pesticides on privately-owned lawns. The pesticide industry challenged those new laws in court, but the Supreme Court of Canada just upheld the precautionary bans. In the U.S., 40 state legislatures have caved in to the pesticide industry and made such municipal laws illegal, but that could change.]

By Janet Pelley

During the past decade, some Canadian cities have addressed rising concerns about the safety of pesticides by banning pesticide use for aesthetic purposes on all lawns and gardens, including those owned by homeowners and the government. Now that a Canadian Supreme Court decision has virtually eliminated the threat of industry lawsuits challenging these bans, the pesticide bylaws are predicted to spread rapidly across the country.

Although copycat laws in the U.S. have been forestalled by industry- sponsored legislation, a growing number of U.S. cities are finding ways to cut pesticide use without resorting to bans, experts say.

On November 18, Canada's Supreme Court rejected an appeal of Toronto's pesticide law by the pesticide industry, which charged that it illegally duplicated existing federal and provincial legislation regulating the use of pesticides. Toronto's ban, passed in 2003, forbids the so-called cosmetic use of pesticides and lays out fines for scofflaws.

The court action reinforces the idea that local governments have a role to play in prescribing how pesticides can be used, says Theresa McClenaghan, legal counsel to the Canadian Environmental Law Association, an environmental group. The decision means that the pesticide industry won't be able to fight the city bylaws in the courts, she says.

More than 70 municipalities (including Vancouver, British Columbia; Montreal, Quebec; and Halifax, Nova Scotia) have already passed bylaws prohibiting the cosmetic use of pesticides, and many more cities are poised to pass bans now that the Supreme Court has cleared the way, says Gideon Forman, executive director of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE). He adds that CAPE applauds the action because pesticides pose unacceptable risks such as cancer and endocrine disruption.

Ahead of their Canadian counterparts, U.S. cities won the right to pass local ordinances restricting pesticide use as far back as the 1980s, says Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides, an environmental group. However, the widespread embrace of pesticide bans was subsequently thwarted by industry-sponsored "preemption" legislation, adopted in 40 states, forbidding localities to make laws more stringent than those of the state, he says.

As a result, U.S. activists have focused on banning pesticide use on land managed by public institutions such as schools, hospitals, and county governments, Feldman says. At the same time, local governments in California and New York have begun to test the strength of the preemption laws, and Canadian-style citywide pesticide bans may soon make a U.S. debut, he adds.

In response to growing challenges to preemption laws, the pesticide industry is engaging more heavily in grassroots action to help consumers speak up in favor of pesticide use, says Allen James, president of Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment, a trade association.

Copyright 2006 American Chemical Society


From: Nano World ..........................................[This story printer-friendly]
January 17, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: In a new report on nanotech, Terry Davies advocates a law that places the burden on nanotech manufacturers to show that their products are reasonably safe, as opposed to a law like TSCA [Toxic Substances Control Act], where the burden of proof lies on the government to show that a product is dangerous. Shifting the burden of proof in this way is basic to the precautionary principle.]

By Charles Q. Choi

NEW YORK, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- A new law specifically targeting nanotechnology could prove necessary to regulate its potential risks [3.3 Mbyte PDF] and promoting its continued development, experts told UPI's Nano World.

"If one takes a 10 or 20 or 30 year perspective, the idea of a new law is not a radical proposition. In fact, it could be the best way to deal with what are going to be significant uncertainties and increasing complexities around this technology," said David Rejeski, director of the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies in Washington, at the announcement of a new report [1 Mbyte PDF] from the group regarding the existing regulatory framework for nanotechnology.

Now was the time to think about how best to regulate nanotechnology, "before there are thousands or hundreds of thousands of potential products in the marketplace, before industry has invested millions, tens of millions or hundreds of millions into ramping up production, and before there have been any problems, accidents or mishaps that can undercut public confidence or optimism about this technology," Rejeski added.

Nanotechnology "is being commercialized at an accelerating pace. Roughly 60 or so consumer products are out there now and several hundred other kinds of applications," said Terry Davies, a senior advisor at the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies. "The extent to which it promises to either ameliorate or solve most of the major problems that we face, going from cancer to cleaning up Superfund sites to dealing with an oil shortage, and everything in between."

Davies coauthored the plan that created the Environmental Protection Agency. He analyzed the existing regulatory framework of laws and agencies that might impinge on nanotechnology and found most of it demonstrated three significant kinds of weaknesses.

First, most statutes or programs failed to address the fact that nanomaterials "behave differently from materials of ordinary size," Davies said. "The assumption built into most environmental statutes and the health ones as well is that there is a pretty direct correlation between volume or weight on the one hand and toxicity and exposure on the other hand. That isn't true for nano."

Next, many programs lacked resources. For instance, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which administers the Consumer Product Safety Act, "had a staff of about 900 or so in 1980, and it's now down to 446 to deal with all consumer products in the United States," Davies said. "Four hundred or so is not enough to answer the mail."

Finally, statutes often had major shortcomings in legal authority when it came to monitoring nanotechnology adequately, Davies contended. For instance, the Toxic Substances Control Act [TSCA] has quite broad coverage and is often considered the primary vehicle for regulating nanotechnology. Davies, who wrote the original version of what became TSCA, said it was "very flawed" because an "implicit assumption of the act is that no information means no risk. In fact, TSCA provides a disincentive for manufacturers to generate health and safety and environmental information, and if there's anything we need in dealing with nanotechnology, it's a regulatory system that encourages the generation of information."

Instead of making do with existing laws to address the potential risks nanotechnology poses [3.3 Mbyte PDF], Davies argued that a new law specific to nanotechnology was necessary. Such a law should focus away from products already well covered by existing regulation, such as with drugs, food, medical devices and the like, and on consumer products such as cosmetics.

For instance, "the cosmetics part of the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act is totally toothless. For all practical purposes, cosmetics are not regulated in this country," Davies said. At the same time, nanomaterials are increasingly finding their way into cosmetics, "and we have no idea of what adverse effects, if any, they are having." Nanomaterials are also finding their way into consumer products such as clothing, golf clubs and tennis racquets, he noted.

Davies advocates a law that places the burden on nanotech manufacturers to show their products are safe, as opposed to a law like TSCA, where the burden of proof lies on the agency to show a product is risky. For instance, all products containing nanomaterials would have to go through testing and reporting requirements most likely established via international coordination. The government could take steps to ease the burden such requirements would have on smaller companies, he added.

A new law would also require manufacturers to submit sustainability plans that would show a product would not present an unacceptable risk. Moreover, such a law should deal with product issues such as imports, exports, national defense and citizen lawsuits, Davies said.

Not all nanotechnology analysts agree new legislation is necessary. "New regulations would be a disaster at this point," said Sonia Arrison, director of technology studies at the Pacific Research Institute, a San Francisco-based public-policy think tank. "Nanotechnology, the manipulation of matter at the level of individual atoms and molecules, offers the greatest benefits for society if left to grow through modest regulation, civilian research, and an emphasis on self-regulation and responsible professional culture."

While Davies applauded voluntary programs for nanotechnology oversight that the EPA has established for manufacturers, he does not feel voluntary programs offer a long-term solution. While such programs can be put in place quickly, "the question is, do they include the people you really want to include, the really bad actors who don't care very much about being responsible corporate citizens," Davies said.

New York-based nanotechnology analyst firm Lux Research's Vice President of Research Matthew Nordan said a concern regarding new regulation was that "the net effect would be to slow things down." A new law could be "very onerous and perhaps premature, given the limited knowledge of the impact of nanomaterials. What we know about the safety of fullerenes, for example, is all over the map, from highly dangerous to probably benign. A lot of existing regulations can be tweaked or interim measures can be imposed for responsible development."

Davies argued that waiting for a slowdown in nanotechnology before instituting regulation would lead to years of delay, opening the public and industry to years of risk.

"You've got a technology or set of technologies in a field that's evolving very rapidly and will continue to evolve very rapidly for the foreseeable future. So even if we're talking about putting something in place 20 years from now, whatever you put in there is going to be obsolete pretty fast also," Davies said. "One of the characteristics which hopefully you can incorporate in anything that you do in the way of legislation is an ability to adapt fast, to change fast, to keep up with the changes in the technology itself."

Davies cautioned that a nanotech law was unlikely unless there was a pretty strong consensus that it was needed. Even if dialogue concerning a nanotech law does not lead to legislation, it could help "identify ways in which we can get an oversight system that is adequate to deal with the technology," he said. In the meantime, programs could coordinate, amend and strengthen existing laws to help manage nanotechnology.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International.


From: Xerox Corporation ..................................[This story printer-friendly]
October 18, 2005


Xerox Reports that, 'Waste-Free Products' Vision Helps Customers Meet Their Environmental Objectives

[Rachel's introduction: The Xerox corporation has set a new goal: waste-free products from waste-free facilities]

ROCHESTER, N.Y.-- Business Wire -- Spotlighting the company's environmentally-friendly product portfolio as well as its ongoing efforts to deliver "waste-free products from waste-free facilities," Xerox Corporation (NYSE: XRX) today released its 2005 Environment, Health and Safety Progress Report (3 megabytes, PDF), which details the year's accomplishments, new initiatives and continuing challenges.

"Sustainable operations is a demanding goal but one that will ultimately more than repay our efforts. We have demonstrated that you actually can save money by investing in environmentally sound technologies and business practices," said Patricia A. Calkins, Xerox vice president of Environment, Health and Safety. "Sustainable strategies also ensure that Xerox products answer the environmental expectations of customers, from large federal agencies to small family-owned businesses."

Xerox's environmental program embraces the entire product life cycle, from selecting raw materials to integrating product features that help people work wisely in small offices, large enterprises and commercial print operations worldwide. It includes sourcing paper from environmentally sound suppliers, designing equipment with parts and subsystems that can be reused, and eliminating hazardous substances in products.

In addition, Xerox products are designed to help customers meet their own sustainability objectives. For example, equipment is energy- efficient and includes features for automatic two-sided printing to conserve paper. Toner cartridges and other supplies are designed for recycling. And Xerox-exclusive technologies such as solid ink generate 95 percent less consumables waste than comparable laser printers.

Notable new products include the WorkCentre(R) C2424, Xerox's first office color multifunction system to bring customers the benefits of solid ink, and Xerox Nuvera(TM) digital production systems with innovative technologies that make machine components last longer and scan pages with low-power, mercury-free lamps. Xerox's Premium Laser paper was among the papers redesigned to add 30 percent recycled content.

Xerox is moving forward on a number of important goals, Calkins said, including Xerox's pledge announced earlier this year to reduce absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent from 2002 to 2012, its program to achieve benchmark safety levels, and its initiative to further control chemicals used in Xerox products. Among the highlights in the report:

-- Ninety-seven percent of eligible new Xerox products met the requirements of the international ENERGY STAR(R) and Canada's Environmental Choice. By selling ENERGY STAR products and reusing parts in Xerox remanufacturing operations, the company enabled energy savings equivalent to 1.4 million megawatt hours of electricity in 2004, enough to light about 1.1 million U.S. homes for a year.

-- Improvements in energy efficiency enabled Xerox to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 6 percent between 2002 and 2004, while energy consumption decreased by 3 percent.

-- All new products achieved Xerox's rigorous standards for minimal use of hazardous materials and noise, ozone and dust emissions.

-- In 2005, the company launched its first office products -- such as the WorkCentre M118/M118i basic multifunction systems -- designed to meet the requirements of the European Union's restriction on the use of hazardous substances, which takes effect in July 2006. Xerox engineers continue to innovate to ensure Xerox products meet the E.U. directive, called RoHS.

-- Reuse and recycling of Xerox equipment and supplies in 2004 kept 142 million pounds of material from entering landfills -- the approximate weight of 8,600 African elephants. Over the past 15 years, this program has given new life to the equivalent of 2.5 million copiers, printers and multifunction systems.

-- Ninety-six percent of returned parts ineligible for reuse were successfully recycled by Xerox's worldwide equipment recovery and recycle operations.

-- Xerox workplace injury rates are 54 percent lower than when the company's Zero Injury program began in 1997, yet they fell short of Xerox's goal of a 10 percent year-over-year reduction. The company has launched a Lean Six Sigma project to identify strategies to reach its goal.

Xerox is committed to the protection of the environment and the health and safety of its employees, customers and neighbors. The company has received major environmental awards worldwide, and it has pioneered conservation and protective environmental policies well in advance of governmental regulations. As part of its legacy as a leader in corporate citizenship, Xerox recently joined the Business Roundtable's new "S.E.E. Change" initiative, which calls for corporations to adopt or strengthen business strategies that support sustainable growth.

The 11th annual Progress Report is available here.

NOTE TO EDITORS: For more information about Xerox and to receive its RSS news feeds, visit www.xerox.com/news. XEROX(R), WorkCentre(R) and Xerox Nuvera(TM) are trademarks of XEROX CORPORATION. ENERGY STAR and the ENERGY STAR mark are registered U.S. marks.


Xerox Corporation Kara Choquette, 303-796-6420 kara.choquette@xerox.com Bill McKee, 585-423-4476 bill.mckee@xerox.com

At A Glance

Xerox Corporation

Headquarters: Stamford, Conn. Website: http://www.xerox.com CEO: Anne Mulcahy Employees: 58,100 Ticker: XRX (NYSE) Revenues: $15.7 billion (2004) Net Income: $859 million (2004)

Copyright Business Wire 2005


Rachel's Precaution Reporter offers news, views and practical examples of the Precautionary Principle, or Foresight Principle, in action. The Precautionary Principle is a modern way of making decisions, to minimize harm. Rachel's Precaution Reporter tries to answer such questions as, Why do we need the precautionary principle? Who is using precaution? Who is opposing precaution?

We often include attacks on the precautionary principle because we believe it is essential for advocates of precaution to know what their adversaries are saying, just as abolitionists in 1830 needed to know the arguments used by slaveholders.

Rachel's Precaution Reporter is published as often as necessary to provide readers with up-to-date coverage of the subject.

As you come across stories that illustrate the precautionary principle -- or the need for the precautionary principle -- please Email them to us at rpr@rachel.org.

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Tim Montague - tim@rachel.org


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