ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

E-waste legislation debated

The electronics industry says a plan that would mandate the recycling of computers and televisions in Wisconsin would drive up costs for consumers. The plan would make electronics manufacturers responsible for collecting e-waste. The amount they'...

The electronics industry says a plan that would mandate the recycling of computers and televisions in Wisconsin would drive up costs for consumers.

The plan would make electronics manufacturers responsible for collecting e-waste. The amount they're required to collect will be based on the weight of all the electronics they sell in Wisconsin in any given year. If they recycle more than their share, they'll get credits they can sell to other businesses. But if they fall short they'll pay fines.

Rick Goss of the Washington-based Technology Industry Council says that's the more likely scenario under this plan, given the lofty benchmarks manufacturers are asked to hit. He told the state senate panel that doesn't do anyone any good.

"It doesn't increase the number of devices that are recycled. It doesn't increase the environmentally-sound outcome. All it does is increase our costs," he argued. "And as I've said before, those increased costs go one of two ways. We have to cut jobs more than we've done already. Or we increase the product price."

But supporters say that's sort of the point. Neil Peters Michaud runs the Madison-based electronics recycling business, Cascade Asset Management. He says making manufacturers bear this cost will encourage them to produce products that are easier on the environment. And it will make sure that people who buy electronics pay for their entire life-cycle.

ADVERTISEMENT

"It really is important to recognize that consumers are going to be paying this cost when they purchase the electronics. It's imbedded in the price of their new computers. And that's fair. It's much more fair than having a taxpayer-funded program," countered Michaud.

Several states have electronics recycling laws on the books. The one Wisconsin legislators are considering is based on Minnesota's, one of the tough rest in the nation. That law encouraged a big jump in electronics recycling.

The industry says it cost manufacturers more than $9-million last year.

What To Read Next