MAC: Mines and Communities

Washington State Hands E-Waste Costs to Manufacturers

Published by MAC on 2006-03-08

Washington State Hands E-Waste Costs to Manufacturers

by ENS OLYMPIA, Washington

8th March 2006

By wide margins in both houses, the Washington State legislature Monday passed the most comprehensive electronic waste recycling bill in the country, establishing a program to provide residents with a free and simple way to recycle computers and TVs.

Governor Christine Gregoire will now have 20 days to sign or veto the bill.

The legislation requires manufacturers to finance the collection, transportation and recycling of computers, monitors, and TVs from consumers, small business, schools, small governments, and charities in the state.

As a result, the recycling program will be run without additional taxes or fees for consumers. This approach of “producer responsibility,” used by many countries in Europe and Asia, provides a financial incentive for manufacturers to make products that will cost less to recycle by being less toxic and easier to recycle.

Manufacturers may either create their own recycling programs, or participate in a centralized “standard plan” run by a quasi-governmental, third party agency.

Washington is the fourth state to pass an electronics recycling bill in the U.S., but the new Washington bill is more comprehensive than the others.

Both Maine and Maryland passed producer responsibility bills, and California passed a bill requiring consumers to pay fees on purchases to go into a recycling fund.

“This is now the most extensive product stewardship bill in the US,” said Ted Smith, chair of the national Computer TakeBack Campaign. “This is even stronger than the program in Maine, because it covers more products, it closes the door on the exporting of e-waste to countries like China and India, and it won’t allow the use of prison labor for e-waste disassembly.”

The Computer TakeBack campaign, a national coalition of groups advocating e-waste recycling, estimates that as much as 80 percent of the hazardous e-waste collected for recycling is actually shipped overseas to developing countries, which mostly lack adequate infrastructure to safely process it. The legislation, SB 6428, had an unusually wide range of supporters - Republicans and Democrats, businesses and environmentalists, manufacturers, retailers, recyclers, charities and local governments.

“The overwhelming show of support behind this proposal is due to its common sense approach and the hard work of all the partners – a wide and diverse coalition, as well as legislators from both sides of the aisle,” said Mo McBroom, policy director for the Washington Environmental Council, one of the key groups supporting the bill. For bill summary go to:

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