Washington Passes Nation’s Most Comprehensive State Electronics Recycling Law
Washington Passes Nations Most Comprehensive State Electronics Recycling Law
Washington became the first state to require manufacturers to fully finance and organize the collection, transportation, and recycling of their electronic products at no charge to consumers. Products covered include televisions, computers, and computer monitors. It is the fourth state to set up a state-mandated recycling system financed either directly by manufacturers or by collecting fees on sales of their products.
By 2010, more than 70 million computers per year are projected to be sold annually in the United States, with nearly half a million obsolete computers containing toxic materials projected to require management each year in Washington State alone.
The bill signed into law by Governor Christine Gregoire received bipartisan support and requires manufacturers to have their recycling programs in place throughout Washington no later than January 1, 2009. The bill also received support from a coalition of governments, charities, retailers, electronics manufacturers, and environmental advocates. Members of the group included computer manufacturer Hewlett Packard, the Washington Retailers Association, Washington Citizens for Resource Conservation, Washington Environmental Council, Seattle and Tacoma Goodwills, the Washington State Department of Ecology, and several local governments.
The new Washington law is similar to a model bill drafted by state and local government officials in 2003 through the Product Stewardship Institute (PSI). After national discussions with electronics manufacturers stalled over a split within the industry on the type of financing system needed to cover recycling costs, state and local governments, environmental advocates, and others took the issue into their own hands in state houses throughout the country. Many used the model legislation developed by the Product Stewardship Institute.
The Washington bill is what other states said they wanted, said Scott Cassel, PSI Executive Director. Here is a state that took a careful, methodical, and comprehensive approach, and considered various options. Now state residents will have an electronics recycling system that will become the gold standard for the country.
By requiring manufacturers to cover the costs of managing unwanted and waste electronic products, the legislation provides a financial incentive for manufacturers to redesign their products to be less toxic and easier to recycle. Manufacturers can meet their obligation by joining a standard program or developing their own equivalent program.
This system engages manufacturers, retailers, and the consumers of electronic products in solving a critical disposal problem that has long been considered the sole burden of government.
We have come a long way from just five years ago, when manufacturers looked for the end-of-life management costs of their products to be paid for by government, said Sego Jackson, a principal planner for Snohomish County, Washington who represented local government interests in the national discussions. This new shared responsibility approach recognizes that manufacturers have the greatest ability to recycle their obsolete products and can make them less toxic and more recyclable. Retailers, charities, recycling companies, and local governments will help provide a collection system, financed by the manufacturers, and will help educate the public. A Fact Sheet on the Law can be found at: http://www.productstewardship.us/supportingdocs/WA_Electronics_Law.doc
The Product Stewardship Institute, Inc. (PSI) is a national non-profit membership-based organization that pursues initiatives to ensure that all those involved in the lifecycle of the product share responsibility for reducing its health and environmental impacts http://www.productstewardship.us .
The Northwest Product Stewardship Council (NWPSC) is a group of government organizations that works with businesses and nonprofit groups to integrate product stewardship principles into the policy and economic structures of the Pacific Northwest http://www.productstewardship.net