Recycling Centers for Electronics Clinton MD
Upper Marlboro, MD
Capitol Heights, MD
Capitol Heights, MD
October 8, 2009 By Adrienne Maxwell
Where are we in the great “producer responsibility” debate?
When we last tackled the issue of recycling we discussed how most everyone in the consumer electronics field agrees there is a serious problem with e-waste. But who is responsible for the cost of recycling? Is it the manufacturer, the retailer, the consumer or the government?
A year later, the debate still rages and, from a legal perspective, is heating up.
Currently, 18 states have passed producer-responsibility laws that require electronics manufacturers to pay collection and/or recycling costs for their products. In at least one state where this law has gone into effect, smaller A/V companies are pushing back.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that, in Washington state, several manufacturers—including ViewSonic, CTX, and ToteVision—are threatening litigation, claiming that the recycling fee is too high and improperly includes out-of-state businesses.
The Consumer Electronics Association, meanwhile, is challenging a New York City ordinance that requires electronics companies to go door-to-door to pick up old gadgets.
According to Parker Brugge, CEA’s VP of Environmental Affairs, the organization feels this particular law is much too restrictive in how it requires manufacturers to handle e-waste.
For example, companies must provide door-pickup for any product over 15 pounds, which the CEA argues is expensive, logistically difficult and bad for the environment in other ways. The group is encouraging state officials to pass a more feasible statewide producer-responsibility law that would override the city ordinance.
In general the CEA feels state-by-state legislation is confusing for consumers and difficult for global A/V manufacturers to accommodate.
“It’s a national issue, and there should be a national law,” Brugge says. He cites Maine and North Carolina's producer-responsibility laws which contain workable elements for a national law: shared responsibility between manufacturer, consumer, retailer and local government. The organization is working with members of Congress and other groups to develop national legislation, and we’ll keep you posted as that process moves forward.
The CEA also encourages the adoption of voluntary recycling programs by electronics manufacturers, and in this area we are seeing progress. Sony and LG were the first major TV manufacturers to initiate free takeback programs. Since then, Samsung, Panasonic, Sharp and Toshiba have followed suit.
Consumers can learn more about each program by visiting the manufacturer’s website or the CEA-sponsored mygreenelectronics.org .
The Electronics TakeBack Coalition has released its second-annual report card of TV manufacturers’ recycling services, available at takebackmytv.com . The watchdog organization lauds the six manufacturers mentioned above, as well as Best Buy and Walmart, for implementing recycling programs, but points out that we still have a lo...