Benefits for New Yorkers and Queenslanders: Trash to Treasure

Benefits for New Yorkers and Queenslanders: Trash to Treasure

New Yorkers will be able to recycle for free now that the state has joined 22 others in enacting a law, which requires all manufacturers to have a free, convenient e-waste recycling program in effect by 1 April 2011. And Queensland is getting tough on trash and is using this waste recovery as a means to boost its budget for an extension of national parks throughout the state.

Mary Esch in The Age (8 June 2010):

New Yorkers will be able to recycle their dusty dot-matrix printers and cobwebbed computer monitors for free, now that the state has joined 22 others in enacting an electronic waste recycling law.

Under the law recently signed by Gov. David Paterson, all manufacturers that sell electronic equipment in the state must have a free, convenient electronic waste, or “e-waste,” recycling program in effect by April 1, 2011.

The law also makes it illegal for individuals to dispose of electronic waste at landfills, effective Jan. 1, 2015.

Kate Sinding, a lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Council, calls New York’s bill “the most progressive, best researched e-waste bill in the country,” building on successful e-waste laws in Washington, Oregon and Minnesota.

Under the new law, each manufacturer will have to recycle or reuse its market share of e-waste by weight, based on its three-year average of annual sales in the state. They’ll also have to submit annual reports to the Department of Environmental Conservation documenting that they have met goals for collection and recycling.

The law covers televisions, VCRs, DVD and MP3 players, game consoles, fax machines, and computers and their peripherals such as monitors, keyboards, mice, scanners and printers.

Resa Dimino, special assistant in DEC’s policy office, said manufacturers are likely to collaborate and develop single collection locations in large communities that will handle all materials. That’s been the trend in other states, she said.

“Because they must meet a performance standard, we’ve created an incentive for manufacturers to collect as much material as possible,” Dimino said.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 14.9 pounds of electronic waste per person was awaiting disposal in the United States in 2007, the latest figure available. The agency says the electronics recycling rate nationally is about 13 percent.

Junked electronics represent one of the nation’s fastest-growing waste streams. The machines contain both precious metals and toxic pollutants and are piling up in garages or dumped overseas.

The state law, which has broad industry support, pre-empts a New York City recycling law that was the subject of an industry lawsuit that is now moot.

Several e-waste bills have been introduced in Congress over the years but none has passed, leading states to take action on their own.

Manufacturers have said a uniform federal law would be better than having to comply with a patchwork of regulations from different states. Ultimately, that would make sense, Sinding said. “But we want to see how different approaches are working before going to a one-size-fits-all approach.”

The Information Technology Industry Council and Consumer Electronics Association released a joint statement on New York’s new e-waste law. They said electronics companies have already recovered and properly managed billions of pounds of electronics through voluntary and market-driven efforts.

“We are reviewing the details of the new state law to assess how it will be applied and implemented,” the groups said, adding that the industry will work with state officials to build “an efficient, fair and successful electronics recycling program for all New Yorkers.”


WWF Reports (8 Jun 2010):

Queensland could soon have a world-class national parks system after today’s State Budget handed down $56 million for the acquisition of new parks to save threatened wildlife, and $38 million for the purchase of important koala habitat.

WWF today welcomed the new allocations to be funded out of a levy imposed on commercial waste dumped in landfills.

“Environment ministers have always struggled to get adequate long-term funding to buy new national parks to save our threatened wildlife,” said Dr Martin Taylor, WWF’s Protected Areas Policy Manager.

“This innovative ‘trash to treasure’ approach to waste levy by the Premier puts Queensland ahead of other states in terms of funding new protected areas.

“If the bonus from the new waste levy is spent wisely to take best advantage of Commonwealth ‘two dollars for one dollar’ grants, then wildlife currently facing possible extinction, such as quolls, wombats, and wallabies, could soon be thriving once again,” he said.

“This would be a great legacy for this government and would make Queensland a magnet for international tourists.”

The northern hairy nosed wombat, bridled nailtail wallaby, and 25 other threatened animal species were once common in Queensland but now face extinction due to a lack of protection of remaining habitat in national parks.

WWF is now calling on both sides of Federal politics to commit to the continuation of the current ‘two for one’ grant scheme, that sees two Commonwealth dollars contributed for every one dollar invested by the State Government for the acquisition of new national parks.

WWF is also calling on local governments to match the state government’s $38 million contribution to acquiring koala habitat.


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