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Waste and Recycling Update

Date: May 24, 2010

This update presents a list of Federal and state legislation recently introduced to address waste, recycling and other related matters.

Governor of South Carolina Signs Electronic Waste Law
On May 20, 2010, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford signed H 4093, the South Carolina Manufacturer Responsibility and Consumer Convenience Information Technology Equipment Collection and Recovery Act, into law. Manufacturers of computers, printers, televisions and other "covered devices" under H 4093, will be required to provide consumers with free collection and recycling services for these devices if they wish to sell the products into the state. The law also authorizes the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control to promulgate regulations imposing annual reporting requirements and registration fees. The act, which will be effective July 1, 2011, is available at: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/cgi-bin/query.exe?first=DOC&querytext=H%204093&category=Legislation&session=118&conid=5551907&result_pos=0&keyval=1184093.

Illinois Legislature Passes Mercury Thermostat Collection Act
On April 30, 2010, the Mercury Thermostat Collection Act (SB 3346), passed out of the Illinois legislature following unanimous votes from both houses. The bill, which is expected to be signed by the governor, would require manufacturers of mercury thermostats to collect and dispose of out-in-service thermostats. A mercury thermostat is defined by the Illinois Environmental Protection Act as a product or device that uses a mercury switch to "sense and control room temperature through communication with heating, ventilating, or air conditioning equipment," whether in residential, commercial, industrial or other buildings, but does not apply to "thermostats used to sense and control temperature as a part of a manufacturing or industrial process." See 45 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 22.23b(f). Beginning January 1, 2011, mercury thermostat manufacturers would be required to develop mercury collection plans and submit them to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, as well as submit annual collection reports. Manufacturers cannot charge for collection or recycling but can implement a fee of no more than $75 for each collection container provided to wholesalers. The bill also would require manufacturers to provide education and outreach about the collection program. All mercury thermostat contractors and wholesalers would be required to participate in the collection and education programs. Manufacturers could be fined up to $2,500 per day per violation while wholesalers and contractors could be fined up to $500 per day per violation. The bill also would ban the disposal of mercury thermostats in landfills beginning July 1, 2011. The text of the bill is available at: http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/96/SB/PDF/09600SB3346enr.pdf.

Electronic Waste Amendment Proposed in North Carolina
On May 18, 2010, North Carolina Representatives Pryor Gibson and Pricey Harrison introduced H 1761 to amend the state's current electronic waste recycling laws. If enacted, H 1761 would expand the state's current e-waste recycling law to cover computer printers, scanners and fax machines. Currently, "covered devices" include only computers and televisions. Under the proposed amendment, computer equipment manufacturers would have the option of selecting one of three recycling plans. Manufacturers opting for the Tier I plan would be required to implement a take-back program for their computers that are to be discarded, pay a registration fee of $15,000 and an annual $15,000 renewal fee. Tier II would require manufacturers to collect their products and those of other manufacturers in exchange for lower registration and renewal fees. The manufacturer also would have the option of collecting other electrical equipment and would be able to charge consumers a nominal fee for doing so, provided the manufacturer maintain physical collection sites in ten heavily populated counties. The registration fee would be $10,000 and the renewal fee $7,500. Tier III plans would be similar to Tier II, except that collection sites are required in fifty counties. Under Tier III, the registration fee would remain at $10,000 but the renewal fee would decrease to$2,500. The bill, which has been referred to the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, is available at: http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/Sessions/2009/Bills/House/HTML/H1761v1.html.

Proposal to Extend E-Waste Law in New Jersey Would Cover Digital Audio Players for the First Time
On May 6, 2010, New Jersey Assemblyman Reed Gusciora and Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein introduced bill A 2625, which is intended to amend the New Jersey Electronic Waste Recycling Act. Pub. L. 2007, c. 347. If enacted, the amendment would broaden the scope of the state's current electronic waste laws by adding printers and digital audio players to the category of "covered electronic devices." This appears to be the first time digital audio players, which are defined broadly by the bill as "an electronic device that has the primary function of storing, organizing, and playing audio files, and includes any mp3 player," would be subject to mandatory collection and recycling. The bill, which has been referred to the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee, is available at: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2010/Bills/A3000/2625_I1.PDF.

For more information, please contact: JC Walker at walker@khlaw.com or 202-434-4181.