Statement of Principles on Electronics Recycling Programs

Summary

Some state governments have mandates relating to the recycling of electronics waste. These mandates add hidden costs to the consumer and often fail to achieve the objectives set forth by the states. The private sector, instead, is leading the way helping create environmentally friendly solutions that actually help solve problems associated with electronics waste without passing hidden costs on to consumers.

Statement of Principles on Electronics Recycling Programs

  1. The private sector should lead the way.  The private sector should lead the design and the operation of any electronics recycling program. Technology companies that designed the products and put them onto the market historically, and recyclers capable of recycling them safely and cost effectively, should be given both the opportunity and responsibility for cleaning up and recycling legacy products. The system should also work across state lines to avoid creation of redundant state-specific bureaucracies.
  2. Government mandates should be transparent to the public. Instead of hiding recycling mandates and their costs in the price of a product, the government should structure any mandate so that consumers know exactly the price they are paying for recycling.
  3. Mandates should ensure a level playing field. If a recycling requirement is made on the sale of a specific consumer electronic device then that requirement should apply to all sales of that device type, regardless of the manner it was sold.
  4. States should not foist these recycling costs onto residents of other states. Currently state-mandated recycling costs are hidden from consumers, and the price consumers pay for televisions and computer monitors is not set at the state level.  Thus states with expensive recycling mandates benefiting their residents are being subsidized by consumers in states without such mandates. This needs to change.
  5. Bad behavior should not be rewarded.  While recycling programs should provide consumers the ability to recycle and channel targeted recyclables into responsible recycling channels, these programs should not eliminate any liability of entities that harmed the environment or dumped these materials onto others to clean up.
  6. Mandates should be narrow and time-limited.  Governments should only enact recycling mandates that are truly needed because of toxicity, critical resource conservation needs, excessive local government burden, or some other clearly specified public need – not just to improve recycling market performance or make the recycling sector more profitable. Products for which mandatory recycling financing is enacted should be explicit and narrowly defined to address the public need. Collaboration between the technology industry, recyclers and local governments is also key.  And all mandates should include sunset provisions to accelerate the return to normal recycling market status and to avoid bureaucratic institutionalization.