Mar 25 - WA Governor Signs E-waste Law

Governor Chris Gregoire Friday signed into law a measure that will allow Washington consumers to recycle their old computers, monitors and televisions at no cost (SB 6428).

“This bill puts our market-based economy to work for the environment,” said Governor Gregoire. “It's a responsible step in the best interests of the public, because no matter who owns the equipment at the end of its life, it will be recycled - free of charge.”

Used and unwanted computers, monitors and televisions contain materials that can be recovered and reused, but if simply discarded they can release hazardous substances into the environment. This bill creates a system to collect, recycle and properly dispose of these items.

Household consumers, schools, charities, small governments and small businesses will be able to dispose of their used products without charge. The cost of the program will be distributed among the manufacturers.

The Governor issued a partial veto on the bill, on Section 26, which would have restricted the export of e-waste to certain other countries. The federal government, not Washington, has the authority to restrict these exports.

The Washington legislation is both more expansive and narrower than California's SB 20 program adopted in 2003. The Washington legislation excludes most devices sold to businesses. An analysis by the California Integrated Waste Management Board suggests that devices generated through the commercial waste stream account for about two-thirds of computer and TV related e-waste disposal.

The Washington legislation does define 'covered' devices to include 'computers', whereas the current California legislation is limited to computer monitors and laptops.

AB 3001 (Pavley), which is scheduled for hearing in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee on Monday, April 3, would expand the California law to include computers.