Gov. Chris Christie recently signed legislation amending the Electronic Waste Management Act into law. The E-waste bill shifts the burden of recycling electronic devices from local governments to device manufacturers.
The Electronic Waste Management Act previously mandated that each manufacturer provide for the collection, transportation, and recycling of its "return share in weight" as estimated by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). In practice, the DEP has underestimated the actual amount collected, leaving municipalities to subsidize the cost of collecting and recycling electronic waste.
The new law requires each manufacturer of “covered electronic devices” to provide for the collection, transportation, and recycling of its market share in weight of all covered electronic devices collected in a program year. In addition, the DEP is authorized to adjust the market share in weight obligation based upon the total weight in pounds actually collected in each program year.
- Television manufacturers are treated the same as other electronic device makers under the amendments. Fax machines and printers are also now included in the definition of "covered electronic device."
- Each manufacturer must provide for the convenient collection of covered electronic devices, especially used televisions, in densely populated areas.
- The definition of consumers is revised to include State entities, school districts, and local government units, which shifts the responsibility for recycling the public entities’ electronic waste from the public entities to the manufacturers.
- The DEP is authorized to assess a per-pound fee of $0.50 multiplied by a manufacturer’s market share in weight obligation for a manufacturer that fails to collect, transport, and recycle covered electronic devices under the law.
- The DEP is authorized to establish a Statewide standard program to collect, transport, and recycle covered electronic devices. Once established, the amended waste law requires any manufacturer with a market share of 10 percent or less to fulfill its obligation by participating in the program. Manufacturer to whom the DEP allocates a market share of greater than 10 percent may participate in the statewide standard program or may submit its own plan for approval.
- The new law establishes the dedicated “Electronic Waste Management Fund” as the repository of all “Electronic Waste Management Act” registration fee and penalty payments and designates fund balances to the administration of the electronic waste recycling program.
The new law is projected to generate annual cost savings to local governments that operate collection centers due to changes to the formula that allocates electronic waste management obligations to each manufacturer of electronic devices and allowing the DEP to adjust each manufacturer’s obligation based on the weight actually collected in each program year. In addition, provisions on the bill that shift the responsibility for recycling the school districts’ and local government units’ discarded covered electronic devices to electronic device manufacturers, would also save money.
For more information about the new e-waste law or the legal issues involved, we encourage you to contact a member of Scarinci Hollenbeck’s Government Law Group.