Electronics-waste bill passes House and Senate

first_imgOn March 23rd, the Vermont House of Representatives approved a broadly supported bill that would provide free and convenient recycling of electronic waste to residents, charities, schools, and small businesses in the state. S.77, which received tri-partisan support in the House and Senate, now makes its way to the Governor’s desk for the final step in the legislative process.”This is an incredible victory for consumers,” said Charity Carbine, environmental health advocate for the Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG). “Instead of storing old computers in their basements or waiting for once a year collection events, Vermonters will now be able to easily and responsibly recycle their e-waste for free.”Unlike traditional recycling programs, S.77 requires electronics manufacturers to share in the cost and responsibility of collecting and recycling their products. So-called “producer responsibility” programs are gaining momentum as states and municipalities acknowledge the role that manufacturers must have in the end-of-life management of their products. Vermont is the 21st state in the United States to pass this type of legislation for electronic waste. Europe, Canada and Asia also have producer responsibility laws for electronics as well as other products. Producer responsibility programs also provide powerful incentives for manufacturers to design their electronics to last longer and to exclude the toxic materials that make recycling so difficult and expensive.  The popular LCD TV is perhaps the “poster child” for how electronics are not designed with recycling in mind, because of both material selection and physical design. Inside a typical 40 inch LCD flat panel TV, there are 22 thin, fragile lamps containing mercury, which light the TV screen. The entire TV must be disassembled to get access to these bulbs, making replacement of bulbs and harvesting them in the recycling process difficult and expensive. (Source: Electronics Takeback Coalition)S.77 requires manufacturers of electronic goods to provide convenient collection options for Vermont consumers to drop off their televisions, computers and computer related equipment at no cost. The program is paid for by the manufacturers of those types of products. Vermonters will not see an increase in the price of their electronic products as a result of this legislation.  “In Vermont, municipalities, solid waste districts, and taxpayers bear the financial burden of grappling with e-waste”, said Jen Holliday, Environmental and Safety Compliance Manager for Chittenden Solid Waste District and coordinator for the Vermont Product Stewardship Council. “We have no control on how these products are designed, manufactured, marketed and sold, but ultimately it is local government that is left with trying to capture and recycle these products when they are being discarded. This legislation changes that model and provides the consumer with a convenient and consistent state-wide collection system that we lack today.” Rapid advances in technology and the emergence of new electronic gadgets make the electronics the fastest growing waste stream in the United States. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates  that in 2007, the US generated over 3 million TONS of e-waste. Approximately 1.5 million pounds of discarded electronics were collected in Vermont in 2008 alone. Source: CSWD. 3.26.2010###last_img read more