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Manufacturers to Pay for E-Waste under New Wisconsin Law

Wisconsin’s new electronic waste (e-waste) recycling law shifts the financial burden from local governments to manufacturers now that users have to recycle their old computers, cell phones and other electronic devices, reports Government Technology.

Based on a product stewardship approach, the law gives the primary responsibility for collection and recycling to the manufacturer. Manufacturers had to register with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) starting Jan. 1.

In June, the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) adopted a resolution for state and federal legislation that will shift the costs of managing product and packaging waste from taxpayers and local governments to producers and the consumers of their products.

The new law also requires manufacturers to document that at least 80 percent of the electronic items they sell are being recycled, reports Wisconsintrapidstribune.com. Currently, many manufacturers are providing rebates to companies that accept electronics in order to meet state electronic recycling requirements.

The state’s new e-waste recycling program, E-Cycle Wisconsin, is designed to keep hazardous materials such as lead, mercury and other heavy metals out of landfills, and reuse valuable resources such as plastic, steel, copper and glass to make new devices, while giving a boost to the state’s recycling industry, according to Government Technology.

Devices covered by the law include computers, printers, TVs and computer monitors, keyboards, mice, hard drives, DVD players, VCRs and cell phones. The new rules require consumers to bring discarded electronics to collection sites of which there are now about 300 registered sites. Fees will vary.

According to the law, any person who violates the recycling requirement is subject to a $50 fine, a $200 fine for a second offense, and a $2,000 fine for third and subsequent violations, reports Wisconsintrapidstribune.com.

However, Government Technology reports that state officials do not plan to issue any individual citations if consumers don’t comply at this time.

Several states have implemented e-waste laws or programs over the past few years. As an example, in June, the New York State legislature passed a new electronics recycling law that attempts to limit the growth of hazardous waste in New York landfills by requiring manufacturers to accept used electronics from consumers.

Connecticut is expected to launch a statewide electronics recycling program in the fall, while Oregon has required manufacturers to either establish their own recycling programs or pay their share of a public initiative since 2008.

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