U.S. Mayors Tell Manufacturers to Pay Up for Product Recycling

U.S. Mayors Tell Manufacturers to Pay Up for Product Recycling

Electronic waste - CC license by Flickr user Greenpeace India

The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) has thrown its weight behind the concept of expended producer responsibility, calling on Congress to support state governments in making the producers and consumers of certain products responsible for their disposal.

Extended producer responsibility, or product stewardship, says that the companies that make products and packaging that are hard to recycle, toxic or problematic in current waste systems should be the ones responsible for the costs associated with collecting and disposing of those products.

Governments have gotten on board with the concept because by making producers cover the costs, that frees up taxpayer and government money that used to be spent on handling items like batteries, needles, fluorescent lamps and electronics. Washington state, for example, recently passed a law requiring companies that make mercury-containing lights to pay for recycling programs for those items.

Twenty-two U.S. states currently have laws that require producers of electronics to fund or manage the collection and responsible recycling of discarded products. Many electronics companies have also created voluntary electronics take-back programs in order to have their own stream of items that can be refurbished, reused or recycled into new products.

The USCM passed a resolution calling for further state and federal product stewardship laws, based on a model by the Product Policy Institute that has been adopted by governments in New York, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Texas, as well as 95 California jurisdictions and government associations. The National League of Cities and the National Association of Counties adopted similar resolutions last year.

E-waste - CC license by Flickr user iowa_spirit_walker