Governor’s E-Waste Bill Favors Industry Over Environment, Taxpayers
ALBANY, N.Y. (June 4, 2009) – With two weeks left in New York State’s legislative session, last night Governor Paterson introduced a bill that would seriously undercut stronger statewide electronics waste (e-waste) recycling legislation currently pending in the state legislature, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
The Governor’s Electronic Equipment Reuse and Recycling Act of 2009 significantly weakens standards that would require manufacturers to take back mandatory quantities of their products for recycling. Known as performance standards, these manufacturer take-back requirements shift the financial burden for managing end-of-life electronics away from taxpayers and local governments, while still allowing manufacturers the flexibility to design their recycling programs according to their own business models. Strong standards exist in legislation proceeding through the state legislature, as well as the existing New York City program.
A statement follows from Kate Sinding, Senior Attorney in the New York Urban Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council:
“Under the guise of being green, Governor Paterson’s bill unfairly favors industry over taxpayers and the environment. This bill only holds manufacturers responsible for taking back unbelievably low quantities of the electronics they sell to consumers every year, leaving local governments and New Yorkers to foot the majority of the bill for this fast-growing part of the waste stream.
“Under the leadership of Senator Thompson and Assemblyman Sweeney, both houses of the state legislature have been working for months to create one of the strongest e-waste bills in the country that would establish an effective and balanced e-waste recycling program. The legislature should dodge the wrench the Governor is trying to throw in their plans with a lesser bill dropped at the 11th hour, and move forward to combine the best aspects of their own e-waste bills.
“This bill from the Governor is too little, too late. It only impedes the real progress already happening in the legislature to provide New Yorkers with an e-waste recycling program that will give them meaningful opportunities to properly get rid of the old TVs and computers piling up in their homes.”
- The Governor’s bill would only require manufacturers to collect half of what is already being recovered through voluntary programs.
- It would preempt the much higher standards in the city’s law, which is in the process of being implemented.
- Three states with strong producer-responsibility laws in operation – Washington, Minnesota and Oregon – have achieved per capita collections of e-waste amounting to 63-68 percent of covered e-waste that was sold in the state in the year before. These quantities dwarf the recommendations in the Governor's bill, which start at a mere 10 percent and max out at 40 percent.
- By taking the majority of recycling responsibility away from electronics manufacturers, the bill significantly reduces their motivation to design products that are cheaper to recycle, easier to dismantle, more durable and less toxic.