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Legislators Call For E-Waste Bill

Senate and House members from both sides of the aisle vowed to work to find a federal legislative fix to the “crazy quilt” of inconsistent and burdensome state and local legislation that is emerging to deal with the stream of electronic waste in the wake of the digital television transition.

Speaking at the recent CEA Washington Forum, U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said he is making it part of his ongoing mission is to protect “innovators from protectionists” in enacting legislation impacting digital electronics.

He has already co-sponsored Senate Bill S510, which would offer tax incentives to recycling, but he said that would likely not be enough. Wyden said. “We are going to try to get a good cross section of retailers, recyclers, manufacturers and some of the various governmental bodies — and I would like you to work with me as you have done in the past.”

Wyden said it was important to take pre-emptive action with a “sensible national policy” before more states enact their own legislation regulating e-waste. He said it was also necessary that the federal action preclude states from adding any additional measures in the future.

Each state’s approach varies significantly, with some states putting much of the burden on retailers, while some expect manufacturers or owners of brands of disposed products to carry the load and expense for ensuring products are properly recycled or discarded.

Similarly, U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said in a separate keynote address that he warned the industry the year he first ran for Congress that recycling laws were on the way.

“Seven-plus years ago, I went before one of our government committees at the Consumer Electronics Show. I said that Congress will eventually act on heavy metals going into landfills, and particularly CRTs, unless our industry acts,” Issa said. “As much as our industry is now acting, the fact is that California acted before our industry and this created an unreasonable burden on companies to try and deal with multi-state jurisdiction.”

“I hope that Congress now does act … because our country’s success is commerce passing seamlessly over state lines,” he said.