Consumer Electronics Association Fights NYC Over Stricter Electronics Recycling

Illustration for article titled Consumer Electronics Association Fights NYC Over Stricter Electronics Recycling

CEA, the organization that represents every gadget-maker (and throws CES every year) is involved in a squabble with the NYC Department of Sanitation over new, stricter laws governing proper disposal of electronics. Do they have a leg to stand on?

Due to certain materials used in consumer electronics (especially in batteries and displays), gadgets are some of the most toxic consumer items out there, capable of leaking dangerous chemicals into the ground if they're not properly disposed of. New York, and 13 other states, have thus passed laws to create specific, stronger rules for these products. Unfortunately, in NYC, that means the members of CEA would have to go door to door to pick up products like televisions and monitors, at their own expense.

CEA is claiming that this pick-up service would clog the city's streets with smoke-belching trucks, which is bad for traffic and bad for the environment, and that the laws are unfair to electronics manufacturers. A spokesman claimed that it's "an unreasonable and unsustainable burden on manufacturers."

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The CEA's argument isn't totally unfounded—it certainly would be a financial concern, even if we're not sure their environmental point about trucking is all that accurate. But the fact remains that somebody's got to take care of this stuff: It's either the state of New York, that needs to spend far more money extracting these gadgets from the trash, or the manufacturers that create the harmful products in the first place. And the fact remains that many other states and countries (Japan, South Korea) have enacted similar laws. So we're siding with New York on this one: We think it's worth a little trouble to get these products conscientiously recycled. [Wall Street Journal]

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DISCUSSION

I'm currently living in Belgium and they have a pretty good system. Each "gadget" you buy pays a small eco-tax (called recupel) that, in theory, covers for the correct disposal of it at the end of its life. As for the actual disposal, you're meant to drop of your old gadget at any electronics store (not necessarily the one you bought it from) or take it to a specialized "container park" where they will collect them. The tax payed covers for the final collection from these points and proper dismantling / recycling. It works quite ok. For batteries, theres an easier program where you can drop them off at tons of places, from your work office to the train station to the supermarket, so no complains about availability.

The taxes payed, by the way, for a 1K euro computer is around 2 to 3 euro, so its not a pain.

Its a pretty nifty system.

As for just dropping them on the trash or the sidewalk, forget about it!! We only get trash collection once a week and dont even try dropping these kind of things in the regular trash. Its hard to be traced back, but theyll try their best!

In short.. go NYC!