E-cycling program's success provides template for city halls across the country

Feb 01, 2010 | 04:36 AM | Paul Schaffer

Electronics recycling is stuck in a chronic rut, with revenue from embedded materials insufficient to generate profits for many market segments. Increasingly, television and computer makers have been called upon, or forced by state legislatures, to absorb some of the net costs.

An intriguing side effect is the opportunity for big-city officials to push for the curbside pickup of electronic discards. Minneapolis already provides that service, largely at the manufacturers' expense.

New York City would like to do the same, and it is defending in court a 2008 ordinance that would require manufacturers to run, not just fund, such an arrangement. A city with many apartment dwellers who don't have cars can't rely on drop-off sites to turn in defunct TVs and computers, according to the city's line of argument.

A union has gone a step further, saying New York should have its Sanitation Department operate as a manufacturer-financed pickup program—tapping the manufacturer funding already required by the ordinance and using it to insert electronics into the existing pickup program for large home appliances. Whether New York City's ordinance ever takes effect is up to a federal court.....

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