Summary: This bill requires producers of electronic waste (e-waste), — i.e. computers, televisions and printers — to be financially responsible for the proper disposal of their products. The bill aims to vastly reduce the amount of hazardous chemicals leaching into landfills from e-waste disposal by increasing public accessibility of e-waste recycling, while also taking the financial burden of collecting and recycling e-waste products off of municipalities and placing it instead on the manufacturers.
Why This Matters: E-waste (discarded electronic products such as computers and televisions) makes up the fastest growing portion of trash collected by cities and towns in the Commonwealth. In 2006, Massachusetts residents discarded over 8 million pounds of e-waste. These products contain significant amounts of toxic substances, including lead, mercury, cadmium and beryllium, which are persistent in the environment and cause untold health problems, including brain damage, kidney problems and learning disabilities.
Currently, when disposed of these products either:
- Go into a landfill, where the toxic chemicals can leach into our water and soil;
- Are exported to developing countries, contributing to high levels of pollution and serious health risks;
- Or, ideally, are recycled responsibly. However, this recycling currently occurs at the expense of residents or local municipalities, which can cost a municipality upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in disposal costs.
What this Bill Would Do: This legislation would make it illegal to dispose of e-waste products in the landfill and instead mandate that they be recycled responsibly.
- In particular, this legislation requires producers of electronic products to pay for the collection, transportation and recycling of e-waste rather than placing the burden on municipalities and residents. In this way, the bill encourages producers to make products that are”greener”, easier to disassemble and less expensive to recycle.
- With passage of this bill, Massachusetts would join 16 other states and New York City in enacting legislation to regulate disposal of e-waste. It also builds on the experience of a number of voluntary recycling programs that producers and retailers like Sony, Dell, Apple, Best Buy and Office Depot have already implemented. It will boost the recycling industry in Massachusetts and help to ensure that Massachusetts does not contribute to the pollution problems of other countries.