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JuLY 2007

Oregon and Texas pass e-waste bills

Both Oregon and Texas legislatures passed e-waste recycling bills. As of press time, Texas’ is still awaiting the governor’s signature.

In Oregon, HB 2626 makes manufacturers responsible for recycling. The service will be free to consumers, unless a “premium service” is provided. Manufacturers must register for the program as individual manufacturers or groups, and must provide collection sites for the e-waste.

Manufacturers will pay a fee based on their percentage of the total number of units sold in the previous year. Fees range from a minimum of $40 and a maximum of $15,000 through the year 2011. In 2012, fees may be modified.

Included as e-waste under the bill are computer monitors or televisions with a viewable area greater than four inches diagonally as well as portable or desktop computers. Telephones or personal digital assistants (PDAs) with screens less than four inches diagonally, and industrial or commercial or medical equipment are excluded.

Retailers must give consumers information on how to recycle electronic devices in Oregon. The information must be printed for in-store sales and in printable form for Internet sales.

Texas HB 2714 requires manufacturers to have a “recovery plan” for recycling or re-use of computer e-waste, and it also must be at no cost to the consumer. Unlike Oregon’s bill, manufacturers will not pay fees.

The bill covers computers and computer monitors, but excludes televisions or other display devices with tuners, as well as telephones and PDAs.

The bill states, “the purpose of this subchapter is to establish a comprehensive, convenient, and environmentally sound program for the collection, recycling, and reuse of computer equipment that has reached the end of its useful life. The program is based on individual manufacturer responsibility and shared responsibility among consumers, retailers, and the government of this state.”

It also notes that the regulations “do not impose any obligation on an owner or operator of a solid waste facility.”

In both the Oregon and Texas bills, the actual recycling of the e-waste is not covered in much detail. In Oregon, the manufacturer must “provide for environmentally sound management practices to collect, transport and recycle covered electronic devices,” while the Texas bill refers to standards in ISRI’s “Electronics Recycling Operating Practices” and would also allow other recognized standards.

The recent flurry of e-waste legislation may become moot if the Electronic Industries Alliance (EIA) gets its way. The group, which includes companies like HP, Lenovo, and Dell, released a “consensus framework that paves the way for federal legislation for establishing a national program for recycling household televisions and information technology (IT) products such as computers and computer monitors.”

The framework has been delivered to key lawmakers and industry and environmental groups.