Friday, October 31, 2008

TV, computer makers gear up for recycling in NJ

Under a law passed earlier this year, manufacturers of televisions and computers sold in New Jersey must develop plans for the recycling of those electronic products when they reach the end of their useful lives.

Until now, owners of worn-out TVs and computers have stored the clunkers in their basements and garages, put them out with other trash at the curb, or participated in special recycling days held by some towns and counties.

The new law puts the responsibility on manufacturers to implement a statewide system for the collection and recycling of their products, either as individual companies or in partnerships.

Bowing, however, to complaints that the law does not provide adequate lead time, the state Senate is preparing to vote on S-2144, an amendatory bill giving manufactures additional time to comply.

Under the bill, television-makers would have until Jan. 1, 2011 to commence their recycling programs, while computer manufacturers would have until Feb. 15, 2012.

Getting a jump on those deadlines, a group of major electronics manufacturers yesterday announced they're joining to provide consumer recycling in New Jersey and other states.

The Electronic Manufacturers Recycling Management Co. (MRM) announced it will commence its program on Nov. 1 with 160 drop-off locations in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and seven other states. The company, which was created by Panasonic Corp. of North America, Sharp Electronics Corp. and Toshiba America Consumer Products LLC., says it plans to expand its services eventually to cover all 50 states.

“MRM is focused on enhancing the sustainability of individual company brands and product offerings through convenient, environmentally sound and efficient recycling,” says its President David Thompson. “This type of collaborative effort is essential to providing consumers with convenient recycling opportunities and to achieving practical, long-term solutions.”

Mr. Thompson is no stranger to recycling in New Jersey. He was instrumental in developing, for the rechargeable battery industry, a recycling plan required by state law a decade ago.

Another manufacturer, New Jersey-based Samsung Electronics America, Inc., announced on Oct 1 that it had launched SAMSUNG RECYCLING DIRECT SM, a take-back and recycling program for consumer electronics across all of its product lines. Consumers can bring their Samsung-branded consumer electronics sold in the United States to 174 fixed drop-off locations across all 50 states for no fee. Drop-off locations can be found at:

Hopes and concerns

New Jersey's fledgling e-scrap recycling law--and the current bill to refine it -- have raised both hopes and concerns. Environmentalists have praised the effort, but a representative of a small company providing e-scrap recycling services in Middlesex County said, at a recent Senate committee hearing, that national manufacturer plans could leave businesses like his out in the cold.

County and municipal recycling coordinators said they fear the law will raise an expectation among consumers that local governments would be forced to shoulder should the manufacturers be permitted to fold their recycling operations in the future.

Senate sponsor Bob Smith said the law leaves many operational details to the state Department of Environmental Protection which will be drafting regulations to implement and enforce it.

"It's not going to be a perfect program at the start, but we can revisit it later, " he said. " The important thing for the environment is that we get an e-waste program up and operating in New Jersey."

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