Interview with Ted Smith, Founder of Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, Part Four

The Toxic Avengers

Nov 28 2023 • 1 hr 9 mins

In Part Four we pick up our conversation about recycling e-waste, including the genesis of EPR -- Extended Producer Responsibility -- and the limits of a “bottle bill” approach to recycling e-waste.

We discuss the Coalition’s collaboration with the Basel Action Network, and the current state of e-waste recycling, including certification guidelines and the influence of the European Union’s regulation of e-waste under the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive and Restriction on Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive.

We talk about the circumstances that led to the Campaign for Responsible Technology expanding their work to be international, now the ICRT.  Ted then tells a brief story about his interaction with Steve Jobs, and the evolution of Apple’s response to the e-waste issue.

We discuss the outsourcing of hazards from electronic manufacturing, and the book written in conjunction with the Coalition’s anniversary, Challenging the Chip.

We discuss the ongoing lack of transparency on worker and reproductive hazards in the electronics industry, and implementation of the CHIPS Act.

We end with Ted’s reflections on founding and running a public interest organization, and his thoughts on the next generation of activists.

It was a real honor to speak with Ted Smith about his life and career of activism.  He was very generous with his time, enough to cover four episodes of the podcast.  For people wanting to learn more, be sure to read this oral history interview of Ted conducted in 2000.

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