Other states watching
Only four other states - California, Maryland, Maine and Washington - have enacted e-waste control laws. Others are waiting in the wings.
"There are a number of other states looking at our model very closely," said Rep. Brita Sailer, DFL-Park Rapids, and the House bill's chief author. "They have been watching what has been happening here."
The bill passed the House on a 114-16 vote. The companion Senate measure was authored by Sen. Linda Higgins, DFL-Minneapolis.
Sailer said 160 manufacturers would be affected by the bill. That includes companies such as Hewlett-Packard and Dell, and also retailers such as Target and Best Buy, which contract with manufacturers to produce their own brands of electronics.
Under the bill's provisions, manufacturers would be responsible for recycling 60 percent of the weight of the products sold the previous year. That would rise to 80 percent beginning in the second year that the measure is in effect.
Manufacturers could either set up their own recycling programs or contract with cities and counties to expand or set up e-waste recycling programs. The manufacturers, whose sales would be reported by retailers, would also have to pay an initial fee of $5,000, and annual fees of $2,500 after that.
Richfield-based Best Buy has been offering voluntary recycling programs since 2000, but as a manufacturer of five private label brands, including Insignia televisions, the new measure and its additional costs may require the company to figure out ways to keep prices down, said company spokeswoman Kelly Groehler.
Target officials could not be reached for comment.
It's the metals
Supporters of the bill note that electronics owners are often stymied in their efforts to recycle their old TVs and computers, either because there's no place to take them or because of the recycling fees.
The result is unwanted TVs and computers dumped or even burned, said Annalee Garletz, policy analyst with the Association of Minnesota Counties.
Garth Hickle, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency product-stewardship team leader, estimated that thousands of such electronics are disposed in Minnesota in this way.
The problem is that they contain cathode ray tubes, which, in turn, contain metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium. Rummel said that, dumped into landfills, those metals could leach into groundwater and pollute it.
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