Photo via cometstarmoon via Flickr CC
After New York state passed the new e-waste law earlier in June, we figured the lawsuit by electronics manufacturers against New York City for its toughened requirements for e-waste collection would be a moot. The state law already held provisions for e-waste collection that would override that of NYC anyway. Well, it's finally official - a federal judge has dismissed the suit, and it looks like electronics manufacturers aren't going to get their way.
The lawsuit came about when New York City decided to require manufacturers to offer free at-home pick-up for junked electronics, rather than requiring consumers to take their old devices to collection points. Manufacturers, however, said it was an undue burden and so filed a lawsuit. It was hotly contested by advocates for manufacturer responsibility, and even government officials from other states were asking manufacturers to drop the suit.
Now, all the debating is pointless as New York state's new law has some strong requirements for manufacturer collections that override the city's law, and thus the judge ruled the lawsuit moot. New York state now requires each company recycle or reuse a certain amount of e-waste by weight each year according to their market share in the state, which is based on a three-year average of their sales.
Environmental Leader writes, "The parties in the case had been holding voluntary negotiations to discuss plans to collect and recycle the city's e-waste, which both sides said the plan to continue in the wake of the dismissal of the suit."
This goes to underscore the continued contention between manufacturers and government officials when it comes to who shoulders the bulk of the burden for recycling electronics. The industry states repeatedly that it is a three-part responsibility among consumers, government, and manufacturers. However, we've seen that unless manufacturers dive in to make it extraordinarily easy for consumers to recycle, the rates of recycling remain incredibly low. And we also know that, especially in a recession, state and local governments have precious few resources to help with electronics recycling.
Whatever the stance on who's responsibility it is to front the cost of recycling, fact is that it has to happen in much larger numbers, or globally, everyone will be feeling the effects of e-waste.
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