Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Mandatory Hardware Recycling Coming To US? 218

Posted by kdawson
from the send-me-your-tired-your-obsolete dept.
BDPrime writes, "A U.S. congressional caucus has met twice to discuss proposing national legislation that would make hardware manufacturers responsible for taking back their own stuff, similar to what Europe implemented with WEEE (PDF). The story quotes David Douglas, one of Sun's eco-evangelists, reflecting on the alternative: 'If we were having to deal with local regulations and local disposition facilities in every state, to deal with every state's nuanced costs, that would clearly involve cost to our basic equipment.'" It's early days for this movement; the buzzword to watch here is "E-waste."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Mandatory Hardware Recycling Coming To US?

Comments Filter:
  • Huh? (Score:5, Funny)

    by LordPhantom (763327) on Friday October 13, 2006 @01:22PM (#16427087)
    It's early days for this movement; the buzzword to watch here is "E-waste." But...but... I thought that was called "myspace"!
  • by chrismcdirty (677039) on Friday October 13, 2006 @01:22PM (#16427089) Homepage
    This is the second time that I've noticed kdawson misusing the Enlightenment icon. Are you guys just picking icons based on how pretty they look now?
  • I thought that term was used only during presidential election years when disposing of hanging/pregnant/whatever chads from ballots.
  • Why stop there? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by merreborn (853723) on Friday October 13, 2006 @01:22PM (#16427113) Journal
    Why don't we place the same requirements on the appliance and automotive industries?

    Oh, they probably have better lobyists, don't they?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by fructose (948996)
      You do realize that over 90% of the steel in cars and at least 25% of appliances (fridges, washers/dryers) comes from recycled steel? More info here: http://www.recycle-steel.org/ [recycle-steel.org]
      • by arivanov (12034)
        Err... Apple and oranges your honour.

        How much steel in the car comes from recycled is irrelevant.

        How much of the car itself is recyclable is the relevant part. EU mandates that 95%+ of all newly manufactured cars must be from recyclable material and the manufacturer is obliged to take the car back for processing. I even got a leaflet stating in clear terms how to claim this. The returns are audited and disposal of more than 5% into landfill will bring a fine.

        The reason why we do not hear about this that muc
    • Re:Why stop there? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mordors9 (665662) on Friday October 13, 2006 @01:31PM (#16427313)
      You must be kidding. When did you ever see a car in the landfill. They go to junkyards, which after salvaging what they can in parts, they are smashed and then taken to be recycled. Not sure about appliances, but every time I have had a new one delivered, they have taken the old one away with them. As much as most metal prices are now, if you throw something that has much metal in it away someone is likely to take it out of your trash and to the scrap yard.
      • by TubeSteak (669689)
        Not sure about appliances, but every time I have had a new one delivered, they have taken the old one away with them.
        Go around back, behind your local appliance store.

        They'll most likely have a pile of old (but not necessarily broken) appliances that get picked up on a weekly basis. And they could care less if you went and grabbed any of it. In other words, if you ever need a compressor or misc washer/dryer parts, nobody is stopping you.
    • Applicances would be interesting. I think a lot of companies (like Sun and HP) are advocating their recycling plans because it gives them an additional chance to "touch" their customers (and talk them into buying more stuff) when their customers are in a disposal (and therefore a "buying") mood.

      Autos are largely covered by the concept of a "trade-in".

      Of course, if Congress gets involved, you can also look forward to an inflated, but standard, recycling surcharge on your corporate box orders.
      • by dpilot (134227)
        The thing that scares me about this is that it creates a "bucket of money" out of those recycling fees. In some essence, the surcharge is supposed to go into the bucket when you buy the thing, STAY there while you use it, and be used for disposal when you're done with it. Buckets of money set aside for the future just don't seem to ever stay set aside, in Washington. Think Social Security.

        Perhaps one might say that less government interference is better, but I think the basic idea is that the current situat
    • Agreed. If you have to eat the waste, you'll think a bit more about what you put into a product. Sure this adds a bit of cost, but if a product is designed for recycling then it will cost less to recycle. The sooner the producers get the bill, the sooner they'll think more about it.

      What makes the e-industry e-worse is that there is no practical use for many junked items. Sure, you can reuse the aluminium etc, but there's so little for the amount of work involved in stripping it. Car bodies can be recycled q

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Russ Nelson (33911)
      Because we're not running out of landfill space, nor the materials that go into automobiles and appliances?

      Because recycling, when it's stupid, is STILL STUPID.

      Because forcing stupid recycling on people is, well, stupid?
    • oh... you want to talk about legislative pull? All the cars around me don't noticeably pollute my air. You know what does? Woodburning in fireplaces, which happens every time it drops below 50 F (!). You ever hear about enforcement of restrictions on this?

      You ever hear environmentalists moan about this kind of pollution?

      Nope, because fireplaces, are like, cool. They pollute more than oil for the same heat output ... but at least it doesn't generate profit, goddamnit!
    • Why don't we place the same requirements on the appliance and automotive industries?

      Wehere I live, we ALREADY have mandatory recycling for refrigerators and freezers (by law they MUST be taken to an approved disposal facility--and all of those facilities recover the refrigerant and have the rest of the appliance recycled). As for other large appliances, recycling is not mandatory but they are virtually all recycled at the end of their useful lives already so it makes no sense to waste time legislating it.

      A
  • It's already here (Score:3, Informative)

    by dave562 (969951) on Friday October 13, 2006 @01:27PM (#16427209) Journal
    One of my clients is in the waste management industry and they are already dealing with regulations from the State of California that prevents them from accepting televisions, CRTs or flat panel displays. The governator passed legislation that requires special disposal of the afforementioned products and of course, that disposal requires a fee that the consumer must pay.
    • The governator passed legislation that requires special disposal of the afforementioned products and of course, that disposal requires a fee that the consumer must pay.
      Unless of course you do what everyone else does, and chuck it in some business' Dumpster in the middle of the night, like a ninja janitor.
      • Why charge a person for doing the right thing? Then, as parent notes, they have an incentive to dump on someone else.

        Pay them to do the right thing.

        A good model is the recycling of aluminum cans here in California. The manufacturer pays a small tax when selling in the state, and then most or all of that tax is retuned to the person who brings it to a recycling center. I've seen people who apparently make a living just recycling other people's trash.
        • by jandrese (485)
          Up in Calgary when I lived there the Boy Scouts would get their yearly operating funds by collecting everyones cans and bringing them to the recycling center for the deposit. People really liked it because the city didn't have regular recycling pickup and most people don't like making the special trip out to the recycling center. They just had to leave their cans out on the front stoop in a bag on a particular Saturday and the scouts would drive around and pick them up. I thought it was a fantastic fundr
          • by Firehed (942385)
            Is that unusual where you live? Around here, it's SOP for the Scouts and school fundraisers and whatnot. Of course, *we* had to knock on doors, but that's only because people around here actually recycle their recyclables to get their deposit back (they're just happy to give up a few bucks for the sake of convenience, especially when the money goes towards a deemed worthwhile cause). Heck, back when I was about six or seven, I used to take a couple bagfuls of cans to the corner store that accepted them a
            • by jandrese (485)
              Where I live now it's not viable because the town picks up the recycling with the garbage. Plus, I don't live in a state with a deposit so it's basically impossible to make money off of recycling.
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          A good model is the recycling of aluminum cans here in California. The manufacturer pays a small tax when selling in the state

          Uh, the consumer pays the California Redemption Value of 2.5 cents per can at the time of purchase.

          There are two reasonable models for recycling electronics. This is one of them; charge them the actual cost of disposal plus some additional money, and when you take them back you give them back the deposit minus the disposal fee. Alternatively, you charge the manufacturer (who p

        • by bigpat (158134)
          Pay them to do the right thing.

          I could support a "deposit" like they have on cans and bottles here in the Northeast. Unfortunately, with the growth of the bottled beverage market and inflation it seems that $.05 per bottle isn't quite enough anymore to keep all of our streets and parks clean. But those $10-20 fees on tv monitor disposal are causing a lot of monitors to get left by the side of the road or in public parks here in Massachusetts. Any disposal fees at all cause litter and environmental proble
        • Good idea. But despite my cheap joke above, if it's really that much of a "right thing" you generally don't even need to pay people to do it. Just make it simple.

          While aluminum cans are ubiquitous enough to warrant small-scale bribery (anyone who remembers when that started can probably tell you how ridiculously huge a portion of the public litter was drink cans and bottles beforehand,) other recycling programs have generally worked well without charging the public. In many areas of the US including min
          • by dave562 (969951)
            In many areas of the US including mine, people separate recyclables from their normal trash. It took a while to catch on, but once the standard suburban "butbutbut my routines!" grumbling died down, it became standard procedure, and where I live we even get the recycling bins from the town at no charge. It's now been something like 15-20 years, and nobody even takes notice of it anymore, we just do it.

            Going back to the example of my client, they seperate the recyclables from the waste stream. The state ma

    • by mph (7675)
      The governator passed legislation that requires special disposal of the afforementioned products and of course, that disposal requires a fee that the consumer must pay.
      I think you're misinformed. Last weekend, I took two CRTs and two UPSs to the e-Waste collection center at my city's landfill, and there was no fee whatsoever. There may be a fee where you live, but I don't think it's mandated by legislation.
      • Sounded pretty mandatory last time I read it...

        http://www.boe.ca.gov/sptaxprog/ewaste.htm [ca.gov]
        • by mph (7675)
          Sounded pretty mandatory last time I read it...
          Ah, I see. The law requires a fee to be collected from the consumer at time of purchase. The post I was responding to made it sound like a fee was collected at time of disposal (I still read it that way).
      • by hurfy (735314)
        At least they appear to do something with them.

        I actually called the waste disposal company for instructions.

        "throw it in the trash" was offical answer.

        I hope they dig thru the trash to recycle, cause the rest gets incinerated here! I don't see how burning electronics does anything good :(

        I don't understand why prisons/prisoners aren't used for sorting and recycling, would it be done at a loss if you only pay pennies on the dollar for labor ;) Nowdays they have them picking up litter for nothing and drop a
    • by atarione (601740)
      hmm... were we live (Del Mar( they will take CRTs / TVs for free at the recycling center.

      When we lived in Seattle I had to pay $25 each to get rid of 2 dead TVs.
  • First Sale (Score:4, Insightful)

    by XanC (644172) on Friday October 13, 2006 @01:28PM (#16427231)

    If I sell something, it then belongs to you: you are responsible for its maintenance, use, and disposal, unless otherwise specified in a contract.

    When the law starts saying I'm responsible for anything happens to an object I've sold in the future, where does it end? How about people being responsible for their own property?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by pertelote (37736) *
      Well, when I have the oil changed in my car, the shop charges me for the oil they put in. I bought it, and I use it. Then, when I return 3000 miles later, they take back the oil, charge me for the replacement new oil, and charge me "Environmental" fees to take back the old oil. They tell me that it is the law. So, what do you think?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by XanC (644172)

        That's different, I think in a subtle but significant way. The law says that oil must be disposed of properly. That's not at all the same as saying that (say) Penzoil is responsible for all the oil they sell.

        Whether you're getting your oil changed at the same garage you bought it or a different one, the law applies to whoever is disposing of oil. If you changed it yourself, then you would have to dispose of it properly.

        I'd say this is a much better law than one that makes producers responsible for thei

        • by Strolls (641018)

          That's different, I think in a subtle but significant way. The law says that oil must be disposed of properly... If you changed it yourself, then you would have to dispose of it properly.

          It's not really that different - electronics good contain some pretty nasty stuff [wikipedia.org], such as lead, zinc, cadmium and mercury. This law is just a way of ensuring that waste electronics goods are disposed of properly the same way as waste motor oil.

          You can't require the end user to recycle these electronics materials respon

          • by XanC (644172)

            Um... okay, so how do you make the end users turn their machines in to Sun instead of putting them at the bottom of their trash bag? Same problem.

            And if disposal is regulated, instead of manufacture (as I'm claiming is more fair), the market will place a higher value on less nasty manufacturing. I don't see a difference in the manufacturers' interest.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Strolls (641018)

              so how do you make the end users turn their machines in to Sun instead of putting them at the bottom of their trash bag?

              Education. When it's not costing them anything the consumer isn't going to mind phoning 1-800-SUN-CYCLE and asking where their local Sun recycling depot is. There'll probably be one in each town. The customer only has incentive to bury the electronics in the trash if doing so is (immediately) cheaper than being responsible.

              And if disposal is regulated, instead of manufacture, the market

            • Um... okay, so how do you make the end users turn their machines in to Sun instead of putting them at the bottom of their trash bag?

              Pretty simple. You get a cash deposit back when you turn the machine in. If you don't turn it in, the cash goes towards cleaning up whatever place you dumped the toxic waste.

      • by merreborn (853723)
        For that analogy to hold, they'd have to ship the oil back to penzoil/shell/chevron.

        There's nothing wrong with regulating the disposal of hazardous wastes. But what the hell's up with this 'Make the manufacturer responsible' crap?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by IWannaBeAnAC (653701)
      Fine. But, the only way to naje this work would be to require people to be responsible for their own property. If you don't take your old computer to a proper waste recycling center (and pay the fee for them to take it off your hands), you go to jail.

      Surely you would have no objection to this, after all you are responsible, right?

      • by XanC (644172)
        Actually yes, that is a much better law. You'll still have to prove that the environmental consequences are worth it.
        • by bunions (970377)
          if a law is far so expensive and unweildy to enforce, it's not worth much. I think we can all agree that in an ideal world the law would leave it up to the owner to dispose of it properly. But then, in an ideal world, people would be dispose of their stuff properly anyway.
          • by XanC (644172)
            Okay, does this non-ideal world include every single person taking his old machine to Dell instead of just throwing it away? Because that's what this proposal still requires.
    • by pctainto (325762)
      You're looking at this wrong. When you buy the computer, you will be paying for the future disposal of the computer. So, the company is not responsible for disposing of your waste (as in, you can do whatever you want with it and the company won't be at fault if you throw it in a ravine), BUT if you bring the e-waste to them, they are required to dispose of it responsibly -- since you have already paid them to do so.

      Currently, hardly anyway disposes of e-waste responsibly because it costs a lot of money to
      • by XanC (644172)

        I'm really not seeing a difference. Either way, you're forcing the manufacturer to be responsible for the disposal of an item they sell, which will increase their prices.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)
          Ostensibly the cost to the consumer should be pretty much the same whether the manufacturer is the one being charged, or the consumer is (at the time of purchase) so who cares? If you based the cost on the actual cost of recycling, then the manufacturer will be motivated to make easily-recyclable goods, for which they simply have no motivation today. Making them responsible for their packaging waste would be a good second step. HP sent me like 20 new caps for my trackpoint because the first cap was defectiv
        • by Strolls (641018)

          Either way, you're forcing the manufacturer to be responsible for the disposal of an item they sell, which will increase their prices.

          So? If all manufacturers increase their prices then who loses? The consumer? This law ensures that the cost of disposal to the consumer is minimised, because it's in the vendor's interest to do so.

          If, instead, one requires the consumer to dispose of the electronics responsibly then in 5 years time consumers will be bitching about the cost and surreptitiously fly-dumping. "

        • So? You are forcing manufacturers to pay the true environmental cost for the product they produce, then allowing the market to sort out the winners and losers.

          This is supposed to be a libertarian's wet dream for environmental legislation - don't ban stuff, just make the manufacturers pay its true environmental cost and let them decide what to continue marketing.
    • by kabocox (199019)
      If I sell something, it then belongs to you: you are responsible for its maintenance, use, and disposal, unless otherwise specified in a contract.

      When the law starts saying I'm responsible for anything happens to an object I've sold in the future, where does it end? How about people being responsible for their own property?


      I think of this more along the lines of like HP toner cartridges. Every single HP toner cartiridge that we buy has a UPS sticker for return of the old cartiridge in the box of the new one
    • Damn straight. Exceptions might be in order for things like smoke detectors with radioisotopes (they already take those back), but the only reason electronics are being singled out is that it's trendy right now to go after 'e-waste'. Probably because there's such a psychological impact in throwing away a now-worthless piece of high tech equipment that was state of the art a few years ago. People feel differently about throwing away computers and cell phones than they do about, say, car batteries. It's n
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by smoker2 (750216)
      Why should you get carte blanche to create something using heavy metals and poisonous gases ?

      Passing the cost of recycling in that case to the consumer is ass backwards.

      The idea is to make manufacturers more responsible about not only the type of materials used, but also how easy it is to recycle them at the end of their useful life.

      In Germany, the manufacturers are responsible for all the packaging that their products come delivered in. Under your rules, they could use massive boxes and fill them with an

  • Old News (Score:3, Funny)

    by obender (546976) on Friday October 13, 2006 @01:33PM (#16427349)
    Mandatory Hardware Recycling Coming To US?
    But we've had this for years!

    Oh wait, it's the United States not us.

  • Instead of creating huge new regulations, why not simply force manufacturers to stop making machines that contain toxic chemicals? Is it really not possible to make a computer that doesn't contain lead, mercury, or cadmium?
    • "Instead of creating huge new regulations, why not simply force manufacturers to stop making machines that contain toxic chemicals? Is it really not possible to make a computer that doesn't contain lead, mercury, or cadmium?"

      Tell me, Professor, how fast is the connection on your coconut-and-bamboo computer?
    • How would that not be new regulation?
    • by compro01 (777531)
      they're working on that (ROHS, Reduction Of Hazardous Substances or something), but it takes time. lead-based solder is being phased out, mercury is still necessary for some things, such as fluorescent tubes (which are used in most LCDs), though those are being replaced by other technologies (LED back-lights, OLED displays, etc.)

      nothing is instant.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Just exactly who decides what is toxic, and how much is meaningful anyway? For example, car batteries dump way more lead into the ecosystem than lead from electrical solder, and the alternatives to lead solder that are in use in Europe are shown to have reliability problems. If your PC has a shorter life due to use on non-lead solder do you really reduce the environmental impact?

        Ditto mercury - for example mercury is used in compact flourescent lamps - but using these lamps actually leads to less mercury in
  • by nickheart (557603) <nick,j,hartman&gmail,com> on Friday October 13, 2006 @01:34PM (#16427385)
    Not that this effects apartment dwellers. I see TVs, radio, computers, computer monitors, used engine oil... all sorts of stuff in our apartment complexes dumpster. I can't imagine how Rhos is going to effect the end-users (corps have to follow the law, peeps just hide) unless we the consumer can dispose properly of our parts for less effort than it takes to walk down to the dumpster at 11pm. The only reason i recycle my HP ink cartridges is because they include than handy prepaid envelope to send it back - less effort to just put it in the outgoing mail bin, then take it down to the trash.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by fithmo (854772)

      I can't imagine how Rhos is going to effect the end-users (corps have to follow the law, peeps just hide) unless we the consumer can dispose properly of our parts for less effort than it takes to walk down to the dumpster at 11pm.

      Oh, I don't know.... environmental morality?

      Kind of the same reason I'm willing to wait until I can find a bathroom before I go poop, except on a much larger, longer-term scale.

      It certainly takes less effort/time to just poop on the sidewalk, or in a drainage ditch, but we've ma

  • This is one of the constitutional enumerated powers of the federal government, right?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MightyYar (622222)
      I'm sure that you are familiar with the Commerce Clause, and how it has traditionally given congress the power to do things like this, so I won't bore you with that. I will say that it makes sense to invoke the commerce clause whenever there is a decent one-size-fits-all solution to a problem in the country - especially in economic matters. It simply does not make sense to rely on every state (or God forbid, local) government to enact thousands of laws concerning hazardous waste. It becomes very expensive f
  • by cmholm (69081) <cmholm AT mauiholm DOT org> on Friday October 13, 2006 @01:38PM (#16427465) Homepage Journal
    The article doesn't make this clear. If it only applies to domestically produced electronics, watch how fast the remainder of non-defence production gets moved overseas.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by witte (681163)
      If foreign manufacturers want to sell it on the EU market, they have to accept the EU rules of business.
      (You can substitute "EU" with "US" or "South Africa" or any other nation.)
      They could always choose to not do business... but that's unlikely :-)
    • by Strolls (641018)

      If it only applies to domestically produced electronics, watch how fast the remainder of non-defence production gets moved overseas.

      If you can consider this contingency only an hour after the article was posted to Slashdot, then it's probably occurred to legislators, too. In the EU the importers of such products now have to register their interest in the goods and accept the responsibility of disposal before the goods are allowed to clear customs.

      IE: Microsoft are not at a cost disadvantage by having to re

  • I will do what i do normally, bury it in the regular trash and be done with it.
    • by bcattwoo (737354)
      No doubt it will cost you money, but you will have to pay it up front when you buy the hardware.
    • by Strolls (641018)
      This is exactly why this is excellent legislation.

      Stroller.

    • Actually, I do this too. But I get to do it without a guilty conscience.

      The people who collect my trash haul it off to a big warehouse where my trash gets picked through. Anything that is recyclable is picked out and recycled by the trash company.

      Of course, this also means I had to buy a shredder to make sure people picking through my trash don't get old credit card statements, etc. But I end up with two trash cans in the house--"Confidential" and "Other." Not the maze that the environmentalists would h
  • CRT's (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ponga (934481)
    I think the biggest thing in the coming years (if not already) will be what to do with CRT monitors that are being replaced with LCD and other tech. Seems only this past week I've had several people ask me if want some 17" CRT's cuz they just upgraded to flat panals.
  • What about .... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Friday October 13, 2006 @02:00PM (#16427965) Homepage
    What about smaller computer shops? Surely to god a three person shop which assembles the computers themselves won't be able to implement a recycling program.

    At which point, are they exempt due to some threshold? Or does this get extended to the component manufacturers?

    It's good in principal, but there could be quite a few which fall through the cracks. (Not that we should abandon an attempt to prevent most of the computers from going into the landfill because a few smaller players won't be able to do it.)

    Cheers
  • by thorkyl (739500) on Friday October 13, 2006 @02:07PM (#16428105)
    I have a machine with a Proliant Main and back plane
    It has IBM SCSII Hard Drives
    Its RAM is from who knows where
    Its Nic's... 3-COM, Intel, Winbond
    It's Fans... Who knows

    Who do I send it back to?
    Or do I have to break it into its pieces and send it all back where it came from.

    What If I want to keep it forever?
    I still have my Northstar (and yes it still works)
    I have 4 meg sims (actually sold 3 today to a client for the printer)
  • then it would be iWaste.
  • by idontgno (624372) on Friday October 13, 2006 @02:51PM (#16428955) Journal
    I don't buy PCs off the shelf. So, if I decide to chuck an obsolete machine, who do I send it back to? I bought the parts from half a dozen manufacturers. Am I supposed to disassemble the thing and scatter the parts to the far corners of the world like the limbs of a traitor? [wikipedia.org] Hell, I have no idea who manufactured the case, and they're in Taiwan or India or something. How do I solve this dilemma, Batman?
  • by Bones3D_mac (324952) on Friday October 13, 2006 @03:06PM (#16429235)
    I'd personally love to see something like this go into effect, so long as the "recycling" doesn't involve shipping the toxic parts to 3rd world countries. However, there are a lot of us here in the US that can't really "lift" some of the older generation hardware (such as CRT displays). So why not impliment a system where you can schedule a pick-up of old hardware to be taken to one of these recycling facilities? (Maybe even for a small fee to be paid at the time of pick-up.)

    If people had the option to have their useless electronic hardware hauled away instead of trying to transport it all themselves, I think hardware recycling could really take off here in the U.S. It's really just a matter of making it accessible to those of us who don't have the physical strength to move such items, or simply making it more appealing to the lazier parts of the population.
  • If we were having to deal with local regulations and local disposition facilities in every state, to deal with every state's nuanced costs, that would clearly involve cost to our basic equipment.'

    Translation: it's easier and cheaper to bribe, er... ummmm... I mean give campaing contributions and junkets to a few key congressmen than it is to bribe every city, state, county, solid waste district or other such official across the country. Look for lobbyists to converge trying to get loop holes for certain gro

"The way of the world is to praise dead saints and prosecute live ones." -- Nathaniel Howe

Working...