The Big Apple is a step closer to adopting one of the toughest electronics recycling laws in the nation. The City Council approved a bill that would impose a $100 fine on anyone who throws an old computer, printer or other electronic gadget into the trash. Recycling the electronic waste will become mandatory, and manufacturers will be required to take back their own products as well as those made by companies that have gone out of business. The Council estimated that New Yorkers purchase more than 90,000 tons of electronic products every year. The gadgets contain hazards like lead and mercury, and most end up in the trash. If the new measure becomes law, the city’s voluntary electronics collection and recycling programs would be replaced by a variety of programs designed and run by Sony, Dell and other electronics manufacturers. Those efforts could include curbside pickups, returns by mail and in stores, and neighborhood collections.
NYC would become the first major city in the nation with an electronics recycling law that takes aim at producers. Ten states, including Connecticut and New Jersey, have already adopted similar measures. (New Jersey’s law is not yet in effect.)
Under the proposed law, manufacturers would start collecting electronics for recycling in 2009. Starting in 2010, city residents could be fined $100 if they threw out a piece of electronic equipment. In 2012, manufacturers would have to collect enough discarded electronic equipment to equal 25 percent of the average weight of the goods they sold in the city during the previous three years.
During the first 2 years, manufacturers would only have to accept their own products. But starting in 2011, they would be required to take products from any manufacturer, or face a $2,000 fine for each item they refused to take. For this reason, the mayor is hesitant. “The administration supports ‘e-recycling,’ but the current bill has untested and arbitrary industry performance standards, which we will not support,” said John Gallagher, a spokesman for Mr. Bloomberg, who was traveling. “These standards penalize manufacturers for the actions of customers, which we believe is unconstitutional.”
The mayor was expected to veto the measure, which passed 47-3, but the strong level of support in the Council could lead to an override or to concessions from both sides.
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