Recycling more electronics focus of Flynn legislation

HARRISBURG, Sept. 9 – Electronics manufacturers would be required to recycle more of their devices, under legislation recently introduced by state Rep. Marty Flynn.

Act 108 of 2010 established a mandatory manufacturer and retailer-based recycling program for covered devices, which included televisions, computer monitors, and laptop and desktop computers. Many of these products are manufactured with components that contain heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, and mercury, which pose a significant environmental risk if they are disposed of improperly.

“In recent years, community-based electronic recycling programs have become increasingly cost prohibitive and, in many cases, have stopped accepting covered devices or now charge a fee based on the total weight of an item. This has led to an increase of illegal dumping, most often along rural roadways. As a device degrades and is exposed to weather conditions, toxic substances sometimes leak out, contaminating the soil, surface waters and ground water,” said Flynn, D-Lackawanna.

Under Act 108, registered manufacturers of newly covered devices are required to recycle a specific amount of old covered devices based on the total weight (in pounds) of covered devices they produced during a year, multiplied by the manufacturer’s market share during the previous year. However, recently, a problem has developed with the current weight-based method used for the recycling of covered devices. Specifically, new covered devices, particularly televisions and computer monitors, weigh much less than older models. Therefore, a greater number of covered devices are entering the consumer market than are being recycled on a yearly basis.

“It is imperative that we assist local communities by further requiring manufactures to bear a portion of the financial burden associated with recycling covered devices. Manufacturers of covered devices should have a social responsibility to assist in recycling their products that pose a potential risk to the environment as well as to the health and welfare of Pennsylvania residents,” Flynn said.

Flynn’s legislation (H.B. 2309) would provide a graduated scale to require that manufacturers recycle more of their covered devices, according to the following:

  • calendar years 2017-18, a quantity equal to three times the manufacturer’s market share;
  • calendar years 2019-20, a quantity equal to two times the manufacturer’s market share; and
  • calendar year 2021 and every year thereafter, a quantity equal to the manufacturer’s market share.

The bill was referred to the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.