Electronics Firms Face Off Against Mandated Recycling Programs

by | Jul 2, 2009

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obsoleteelexsFrom smaller electronics companies to national electronics organizations, a war is being waged against the various state regulations that mandate manufacturers provide recycling of consumer electronics.

With the recent conversion to digital television programming, more and more older television sets are being put on the curb.

To reduce environmental damage from electronics waste, governing bodies from Washington state to New York City have set up their own programs to mandate electronics recycling.

Beginning in 2003, 19 states have passed such laws, while similar legislation has been introduced in 12 other states. So far, the laws have taken effect in 10 states, with more set to go into effect next year.

Now, electronics companies are fighting back, sometimes with lawsuits, saying the recycling programs are too costly, reports WSJonline.com.

In New York City, the Consumer Electronics Association, which represents 2,000 electronics companies, is negotiating to alter a city ordinance that would require companies to pick up obsolete electronics on a door-to-door basis. The group says the effort in that city alone could cost $200 million annually.

In Washington State, a program that requires electronics manufacturers to help pay for recycling has cost Seattle-based ToteVision 4 percent of its profits since January, said Bill Taraday, president of the $10 million firm, which makes LCD screens. Five companies, including ToteVision, have filed suit against the state, citing unreasonable costs.

The Electronics TakeBack Coalition has said that too few TV manufacturers have programs to recycle electronics, and that many of the ones that exist are inadequate. It has issued a company by company scorecard.

Even some existing electronics recycling companies have come under fire for alleged fraud. In a move to help businesses ensure that they are ethically recycling their obsolete electronics, the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB) now offers electronics recyclers and others including asset management and refurbishing operations national certification to the e-Stewards Certification Program developed by the Basel Action Network (BAN).

To combat recycling fraud and contamination, Dell has gone so far as to cease sending its electronics recyclables abroad.

Panasonic Corporation of North America’s recently expanded its Nationwide Recycling Program, with 30 additional drop-off sites in the Southeastern United States including Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. The expansion brings the current number of drop-off locations to 310 nationwide. Toshiba and Sharp are part of this program, too.

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