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Robert K. Sweeney
Assembly District 11
Chair, Environmental Conservation Committee
Taking the Hazard Out of the Heap
Sweeney E-Waste recycling bill passes Assembly
June 29, 2009

One of the landmark bills passed by the Assembly this year was the “Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act”, sponsored by Assemblyman Bob Sweeney.

Electronic waste is one of the fastest growing and most hazardous components of the waste stream.

“Rapid technology change, low initial cost, and planned obsolescence have resulted in a skyrocketing volume of electronic waste. Electronic waste often contains many toxic substances, including lead, mercury, chromium, cadmium, polyvinyl chloride and beryllium. There are direct environmental and public health consequences for New York residents from the improper handling and disposal of electronic waste. Additionally, many of the components of electronics are valuable, and can be recycled or reused, including precious metals and glass,” said Assemblyman Bob Sweeney, Chair of the Assembly’s Environmental Conservation Committee.

This bill seeks to establish a system for the collection, handling and recycling or reuse of discarded electronic equipment.

Sweeney said, “This legislation will establish a comprehensive state-wide electronic equipment reuse and recycling program. The program requires manufacturers to collect, reuse and recycle electronic equipment, giving them an incentive to develop products containing fewer hazardous substances, more reusable components, and products that are designed with the environment in mind.”

Manufacturers of electronic equipment, including computers, televisions, printers, keyboards, portable digital music players, video cassette recorders, digital video players, electronic game consoles and any cables, cords or wiring are covered under the act.

The bill would require electronics manufacturers to collect and recycle electronic products. The disposal of devices would be free for consumers. Manufacturers would be required to collect a minimum amount of waste based on the state reuse or recycling goal, initially determined on a per capita basis, beginning in July 2010. In July 2013, each manufacturer will be assigned a share of the statewide reuse or recycling goal based on the collection rate of the preceding three years. The manufacturers share would be determined by their market share of sales. Manufacturers who fail to collect their allotted share would be subject to a recycling surcharge, unless they receive a waiver from the Department of Environmental Conservation.

“Recycling helps to prevent the release of toxic substances used in electronic devices. This will provide health and safety benefits while enhancing the quality of the environment”, Sweeney concluded.

This bill has passed the Assembly and is supported by the Governor. It awaits action in the Senate.

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