Last Friday, hiding behind two trade associations, electronics manufacturers filed suit challenging NYC's e-waste law. The law is based on the producer responsibility, or product stewardship, approach, which holds that manufacturers should be responsible for taking their products back from consumers for sound recycling at end-of-life.
The complaint lobs a bowl of spaghetti of claims against the measure - complaining of "crushing costs," a "draconian level of burdens," and portending the demise of some companies - plainly hoping some will stick.
Never mind that the companies have been willingly (if not cheerfully) complying with similar laws in no fewer than 18 states, with no reports of failed businesses or lost jobs. (Has industry ever not claimed that new regulation would put them out of business?) Indeed, we are in the process of compiling research demonstrating that these laws are job-creating.
We issued this press release last week upon learning of the lawsuit.
We are still conducting a thorough analysis of the 52-page, 8-claim complaint, but an initial read suggests that overall - while the companies have come up with some creative, novel claims - at root they are trying to escape liability for manufacturing toxic products on the basis that once sold they can wash their hands of them. Not only does this proposition offend basic notions of corporate responsibility, but a consideration of other regulatory approaches commonly employed in this country suggests that it cannot be correct.
But we are not taking this lawsuit lightly and will work hard to help the City defend its law, as well as the other 18 producer responsibility-based e-waste laws and laws that regulate other products (like paint) under a similar approach.
In the meantime, we continue to push for the enactment of a State law that would preempt the City law and give all New Yorkers access to free and convenient e-waste recycling.
Stay tuned, as I will post further as the lawsuit proceeds.