Strengthening California’s Weak e-Waste Law

May 11th, 2011

California is the home to electronic companies such as HP and Apple and also to one of the weakest e-waste recycling laws in the country. Why? Because California passed a “let the company ride free law” – meaning that we as consumers have to pay for the collection of e-waste instead of the company. That is why we have to pay an extra ($6-10) fee when we buy a new laptop – but you don’t have to in other states. The manufacturers foot the bill in those states.

But even with that said, the law is less than perfect.

Luckily some state legislators are doing what they can to pass legislation to prevent more e-waste from ending up overseas and protect tax payers from fraud.

AB 960 – Assemblymember Lowenthal.
Here in California, you can take your e-waste to an e-waste collector – your monitor, your printer, your keyboard, your mouse –but only the monitor is actually well, monitored, as it leaves the state of California.

The goal of AB 960 is to make sure that we can verify where all of the e-waste is being shipped.

As much as 30% of the materials recyclers in California receive are ‘uncovered’ devices’ (keyboards,  printers etc). There is currently no legal requirement or financial incentive for recyclers to handle them properly and or not simply dump them overseas.

AB 960 would address this problem by extending the existing market-based incentive for proper e-waste management to all toxic electronics.

Until the US ratifies the Basel Convention (and the amendment) along with the rest of the world (the other exceptions Haiti & Afghanistan) – we must do what we can to make sure we are not aiding to the violation of other country’s laws. We must track all of our e-waste. We must stop dumping it on countries that do not have the infrastructure to recycle it.

We need recycling to create jobs here.

AB 549 – Assemblymember Carter.
This piece of legislation seeks to clarify the very weak law that currently exists to ensure that CalRecycle (the department that oversees the law) is allowed to review any documentation from a collector (or ‘recycler’*) before payment is released. And that CalRecycle can deny payment if the collector or ‘recycler’ is in non-compliance with the law.

Seems pretty cut and dry to me but apparently legislation was needed to be passed before this could happen.

*Don’t be fooled by a company that the State of California lists as an authorized recycler. Just because they are on that list does not mean they recycle nor does it ensure that they do not dump waste overseas.

To find those companies, you need to go here: http://e-stewards.org/find-a-recycler/