Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Your chance to weigh in early on NJ E-Waste regulations

There's a system in place in New Jersey that guarantees that anyone can get their opinion considered by the state's Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) whenever new environmental regulations are proposed in the New Jersey Register.

In the case of upcoming rules for the recycling of used televisions and computers, you can weigh in even before the proposals are made public.

The Department announced yesterday that, because of the level of  public interest and the significant increase in the generation of electronic waste in recent years, it is going above and beyond its normal rulemaking process "by giving the public, environmental advocates, businesses, and manufacturers of covered electronic devices an opportunity to provide comments before we formally propose regulations." 

New Jersey's Electronic Waste Recycling Law

The rules are designed to implement the state's so-called E-Waste Recycling Law (formally, The Electronic Waste Management Act) which bans the disposal, beginning Jan. 1, 2011, of televisions and all personal or portable computers - including desktop, notebook and laptop computers, as well as computer monitors.  The law requires manufacturers of the devices to establish and finance a free system for the collection and recycling of the material.
What the law does not cover: DEP notes that the law does not cover celll phones, DVDE players, VCRs, game consoles or radios or TVs found in automobiles (although some county, municipal and other recycling programs do collect them.

Why is New Jersey requiring old TVs and computers to be recycled?  Because they can contain such toxic materials as lead (the reason old computer screens are so heavy), mercury, nickel and cadmium which would end up in landfills or waste incinerators if not recycled.

The U.S. Environmental Agency says that e-waste is growing two to three times faster than any other component of the waste stream because of the high turnover in consumer purchases of electronic devices.

Here's where you can find a copy of NJDEP's draft electronic waste recycling rules.

Reminder: You must submit your comments by November 15, 2010.

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