States Grapple with Growing Pile of Electronic Waste

Article excerpt

Byline: RECYCLING By Pete Chism For The Register-Guard

GPS, PDF, GPRS, DSL, CPU and CRT are a few of the acronyms that rose from the boom of electronic industry and found themselves commonplace in our everyday language.

As we count the ways technology makes our lives easier (and our language more complicated), there's one question that remains unanswered: What is the best way to handle electronic waste (e-waste) when this material no longer serves a purpose?

Senate Bill 740 provides an idea of how the state of Oregon could handle the e-waste problem. The idea behind SB 740 is simple: When you buy a computer, you pay a fee for disposal at the point of purchase, anywhere from $1 to $10. This fee is commonly called an Advanced Recovery Fee, or ARF.

Under this plan, the retailer would collect the ARF and send the fees to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. The DEQ would reimburse the collection and processing organizations that recycle e-waste, leaving the customer with no fee to pay at the point of disposal.

To date, three states have passed legislation for landfill bans of e-waste, and have established the foundation for an e-waste recycling system.

California has an ARF system that charges $6 to $10 per CRT. Maine's e-waste system requires that the producers of electronic devices provide a take-back program for recycling. In Maryland, if an electronics manufacturer does not have a recycling program, the company is charged $5,000, which is set aside in a grant program to reimburse organizations that recycle e-waste.

Minnesota and Arkansas both have an "if you build it, they will come approach." They have passed landfill bans for e-waste, but have no concrete plans for handling the material.

Oregon, Washington and Georgia have established committees to discuss the issue on a statewide scale, which provides education on the subject of e-waste to state legislators. In Oregon, it helped lay down the foundation of SB 740.

Many key players in the industry say that the answer to our nation's e-waste problem lies with the federal government to establish a uniform system. …