New York Passes Strict E-waste Law

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According to the U.S. EPA, nearly 15 pounds of e-waste per person was junked in 2007. Photo: Flickr/Jason Schlachet

It has been hailed as “the most progressive, best researched e-waste bill in country” by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

While New York is the 23rd state to pass an e-waste law, this new legislation is more stringent, holding both manufacturers and consumers responsible for disposing electronic waste.

Starting in April 2011, manufacturers across the state must offer free programs allowing consumers to drop off their items for proper disposal. Manufacturers will also be prohibited from dumping e-waste in landfills. That same rule will go into effect for consumers starting Jan. 15, 2015.

According to The New York Times, the state will mandate the amount of electronic waste each company is required to recycle or reuse annually. This number is based on each manufacturer’s market share of electronics sales in New York.

Companies that don’t meet the recycling standards will be ordered to pay fines that will be used to fund state-run recycling programs. “Recycling credits” will be rewarded to companies that collect more waste than required, an aspect of the law that has been called an “unfortunate loophole” as these credits can be traded or sold.

New York City passed its own e-waste law in 2008. The bill was supposed to begin collection from manufacturers in 2009 and impose fines for residents starting this year. It passed by a 47-3 vote, with opposition from Mayor Bloomberg. It became the first city law relating to e-waste disposal.

Oregon’s e-waste recycling law took effect last January and required any company selling computers and televisions in the state to either partner with a recycler or start their own recycling program.

Meanwhile in California, consumers handle the financial burden of recycling through an advance recovery fee – a tax on the purchase of computer monitors and televisions that funds recycling. However, many electronics recycling events in California will donate a portion of the fee to a charitable organization.

New York State’s new law covers television sets, computers, printers, keyboards and DVD and MP3 players. However, the law does not include household appliances like refrigerators, washing machines, clothes dryers and microwaves.

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  • Sue

    Hello Amanda,

    Excellent article! The passing of this “E-waste law” is a big step in the right direction. Unfortunately, making recycling optional is not an option anymore. This makes it mandatory and less electronics will end up being trashed. For this thinking to work, more people need to consider it as important as their regular basic needs. It needs to become a part of their everyday lives and do what is important for the environment. Thank you.

  • Bill

    Sue, this law stinks!! Recycling should DEFINITELY be optional, not FORCING people into the expense and inconvenience of having to deal with it. Thank god where I live there are still PLENTY of dark roads where this stuff can be dumped with no having to deal with it. Then it becomes the townships problem and expense as it should have been all along.

  • Maria

    Bill,
    How can you say such ignorant and disgusting things? If you feel so strongly about not recycling, what are you doing on this website anyway?

  • Mary

    Maria – you ask Bill how he could possibly say such ignorant disgusting things. One of two reasons, Bill is just pretending to be a jerk or he really is a redneck and dare I say Republican. Yes I dare, he’s an ignorant redneck Republican.