CEA Challenges New York Recycling Law

August 3, 2009

Last week news broke of a lawsuit by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) challenging a new law passed by the City of New York requiring electronics manufacturers to provide free, door-to-door electronics collection to City residents. The regulation was scheduled to go into effect last Friday (7.31). Concerns have been raised that this new law will force hundreds of trucks onto already crowded city streets, increasing traffic congestion, air and noise pollution, and carbon emissions, and costing manufactures more than $200 million annually. CEA’s objections are well-founded.

“Manufacturers recognize that they have a key role in providing recycling opportunities for consumers, and have recycled billions of pounds of electronics through voluntary programs,” CEA president and CEO Gary Shapiro said as part of the announcement. “However, they do not have the only role. The responsibilities and costs for electronics recycling should be shared among all stakeholders, including city and state governments, retailers, recyclers and consumers.”

I have been following electronic recycling programs on our sister blog (Green Life Smart Life) for some time and there are a lot of programs out there to aid in this quickly increasing problem. I think they’re great. I think all manufacturers and retailers should offer recycling programs for their customers. But I am in agreement with the CEA that should this law go forward, it will only cause more problems for a struggling industry. In these economic times, asking manufacturers (many of whom are small and independently owned) to add the expenditure of additional trucks, fuel and manpower can only result in more of them being forced to close their doors. Then where will we be?

If NYC wanted to implement regulation that all manufacturers were required to offer recycling programs in their stores, then I don’t think we would be having this problem.

Fact – recycling programs for electronics are lacking across the country. While many manufacturers do offer their own programs, there aren’t enough. It is great that manufacturers are taking things into their own hands. I commend the ones who do. But this isn’t going to solve the problem in its entirety.

If NYC (or any other municipality) is really concerned about electronics recycling, instead of pushing the efforts back on the manufacturers, it needs to be taken into their own hands. You’d be hard-pressed to find a town or city in the country that doesn’t offer traditional recycling programs. In my city, if you don’t put recycling out to the curb, they won’t take your garbage. What is stopping them from offering electronic recycling programs? I’m not suggesting that this be a weekly pickup like traditional garbage, but if the municipalities offered electronics recycling pick up monthly or bi-monthly, it would be a lot less of an environmental impact. Think about it like this: say there are 20 manufacturers in NYC, and each one requires 5 trucks. (I think this is a low estimate, but figure one per borough) That’s 100 trucks that will be out on the streets polluting the environment – in addition to the garbage and recycling truck in the city’s fleet. Now we’re talking about a lot of needless carbon emissions in the city.

Those who recycle are concerned about the environment. They recycle to ensure that they are doing their best to reduce the amount of garbage that ends up in our landfill and pollutes our earth. So how is adding a massive fleet of trucks to the road helping? The point to my rant is that there are other ways to combat the growing problem of recycling electronic products. Forcing manufacturers to bear the burden and the cost, with no compliance from the city or requirements of the residents is not only unfair, it’s also unrealistic. There has to be another alternative.

Ok, I’m stepping off my soapbox now, but rest assured I’ll be back!

Posted by: Lauren