A New York ordinance requires electronics manufacturers to collect and dispose of old devices, such as computers and portable music players, that would otherwise pose a health hazard if improperly disposed.
American City & County asked the readers of its weekly e-mail newsletter if electronic manufacturers should be held responsible for collecting and disposing of electronic waste. Below are some of the responses.
“Manufacturers and retailers make a profit from marketing and selling the devices, therefore, they should be forced to apply some of it to try to control how the devices are disposed of once they are no longer useful to the consumer. Perhaps rebates to consumers for returning or trading in devices can be offered. Of course, the manufacturers and retailers will pass the new costs for such a program on to the consumers who buy the products, but that is more fair than having taxpayers in general pay for community disposal programs, or worse, having our future generations pay the consequences for not having disposal programs.”
— Norma Rocha, database coordinator, Bexar County, Texas
“I believe it is not unreasonable to require the manufacturers to be held responsible for the waste stream associated with their products, either directly through some sort of return system, or indirectly through the imposition of a waste management fee [for implementing] a universal, nationwide program. This type of approach seeks to capture the ‘full-cost’ of the product in that the manufacturers will have to pay the costs associated with the programs, either theirs or the governments’. It may also have an added benefit of encouraging manufacturers to consider the amount of waste generated.”
— Tom Keith, environmental program manager, Greenville, S.C.
“I think a manufacturer take-back program is a fair way to handle e-waste. It also would provide regulators a smaller number of licensees to regulate and monitor.”
— Mark Nelson, program manager, Lake County, Mont., Solid Waste