Recycling managers divided on proposed e-waste policies

Results of a new survey from Raymond Communications show that recycling officials don’t agree on how waste electronics should be managed in the U.S. There were 52 E-waste bills introduced in 26 states in 2003, and many of them moved. In September, California Governor Gray Davis was handed a second electronics waste bill to sign or veto.

At the National Recycling Congress meeting on September 15, Michele Raymond, publisher of Raymond Communications said that passage of another state bill would add to the domestic and international pressure on electronics makers to ensure recovery of their products. She pointed to the fact that electronics makers already have three sets of take-back mandates to comply with in Europe and Asia, with laws on packaging, batteries, and now electronics products.

California’s new bill, SB 20, cleared the Assembly and was sent to the Governor on September 12. Like a previous bill that was vetoed in 2002, SB 20 places a $6 to $10 fee on electronics with hazardous lead-based cathode ray tubes. But this bill also phases out heavy metals, and requires manufacturers to report, label and provide public education.

Industry is concerned that if no national take-back plan is agreed upon, such as the National Electronics Product Stewardship (NEPSI), they will end up with a costly patchwork of state fees and take-back laws. But in preliminary results of Raymond’s annual survey of state recycling managers found only a slight majority — 13 of 32 responding — felt the NEPSI process will succeed.

The survey, which will be published later this month, also found little agreement among state managers over how management of electronics waste should be accomplished. The feedback was as follows: three felt industry should finance and handle all collection; 12 said government should set up drop-off centres with industry handling the rest; nine favoured fees on new electronics with industry handling the system; and, 14 indicated that for future waste, there should be fees at first to internalize costs to industry. Only one respondent thought government should handle the whole system using fees, while 10 managers checked "other" with comments.

For further information, contact Michele Raymond, publisher of Raymond Communications at 301-345-4237 or

(Also see "E-Waste Recycling" in the August/September edition of the magazine.)