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States Challenge CEA’s Electronics ‘Take-Back’ Suit

State and local government officials from 18 states called on the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and Information Technology Industry Council (ITIC) last week to withdraw a lawsuit against a New York City e-waste recycling law that makes producers responsible for taking back waste products for recycling.

A letter to the CEA and the ITIC representatives from 18 state and local governments expressed continued support for localized laws that give CE manufacturers responsibility for financing effective take-back services for all the products they are selling in those states.

The lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court on July 24, argues that the New York City e-waste recycling law passed in April 2008 is unconstitutional.

The New York law requires the electronics companies to collect and recycle old electronic products and 19 states have passed similar “producer take-back” laws.

Also, last week local governments from New York State, Oregon and California and an independent government association submitted an amicus brief to the court in support of New York City’s right to enact its producer take-back law.

Two states, Maine and Washington, provided affidavits that were submitted as part of the New York City’s legal filings. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has also intervened in the case, in support of the city’s law, and is now a party to the case. Oral arguments in the New York City lawsuit are expected to begin late next month.

Commenting on the action, Parker Brugge, CEA environmental affairs and industry sustainability VP, said: “We do not oppose producer responsibility. We exercise producer responsibility in other states where it is the law, and also voluntarily in states where it is not the law.”

According to state and local representatives, states began passing recycling laws because there was no federal take-back law and little likelihood of a strong federal law being adopted. They also argued that voluntary industry programs were not effective.

The 19 states which have passed producer responsibility laws for electronics are: Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.