eWaste - Curse, Commodity

There's been a slew of recent ideas on how to address the global eWaste problem. Mike Thompson (D-Calif) has proposed a national 'e-Fee' on electronic devices. This model is called the Advance Recovery Fee (ARF), and it will cost consumers about $10 per device that they will pay up front to recycle the equipment. States and cities have been going in the opposite direction, most preferring the manufacturer responsibility model, where the vendor is billed for the processing fees. Obviously, this is a difference of opinion, and some states like Montana are already going the extra yard, with proposed legislation to get the e-Fee back that you pay to the Feds.

Other countries have different approaches. India has a few straightforward ones - ignore it, or (better?) organize the existing ragpicker army to process the wastestream. And Basel Action Network (BAN) reports that Japan has it's own solution as well - use the junk as a bargaining chip in international trade agreements. You want that new Honda plant? Take 50 tons of old computers...

It will be interesting to see which eWaste strategies will take hold. Will the consumer pay? Will the vendor take it back? Will the government care? Stay tuned for the next exciting episode.

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