It's public versus private in dispute over electronics recycling laws

It's public sector vs. private industry in dispute over local and state e-waste recycling laws.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

Need some time to reflect on this, because I am out at a conference and I'm seriously jet-lagged. But this one slipped under my radar before, and I think it bears watching because it will be a guidepost for technology and electronics recycling laws all over the country -- many of which are supposed to kick in during 2010 or 2011.

The Electronics TakeBack Coalition, along with officials from 18 state and local governments, is publicly calling on the Consumer Electronics Association and the Information Technology Industry Council to withdraw a lawsuit they filed back in late July challenging the constitutionality of New York City's e-waste recycling law. Here's a link where you can find the legal papers.

Those opposing the suit claim that if voluntary programs run by manufacturers were more effective, there would not be a need for local laws and that the public sector should not be responsible for bearing the financial burden of responsible e-waste disposal. The short of it is that neither side wants to be left holding the bag.

Here's a statement from Wisconsin State Senator Mark Miller, who sponsored the state's new law passed two weeks ago:

“This lawsuit isn’t really about the New York City e-waste law. This is really about the rights of states and cities to say that the manufacturers of toxic products need to be responsible for their products when consumers are ready to discard them. The outcome of this case could impact producer responsibility laws in all of our states, on a whole host of products.”

Think it doesn't matter to you? Maine was probably the earliest state to pass a law on this issue, but you should care if you're a resident of Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Here's the letter they've sent criticizing the suit.

Arguments in the New York City suit are supposed to start in early December. This time, I'll be standing by.

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