There has been (as David Thompson of Panansonic warned in a meeting in 1998 with David B. Struhs at Mass DEP) a "patchwork quilt" of different legislative solutions to the electronics waste recycling opportunity. Many different states have made many different tweaks. The latest version is New York's, which calls on the manufacturers to set up systems faster and to pay more.
The "producer responsibility" model is winning more ground, compared to Massachusetts first in the nation waste ban and California's second in the nation advanced recycling fee (kind of a deposit system).
West Coast kills reuse. East Coast reinserts reuse. Vermont and New York have deliberately written reuse back into the allowed system for recycling, as we have reminded people that no one knows put in California's "cancellation" (destroy prior to export) rule and no one seems to defend it.
I would have preferred a brand new clean sheet of paper, to have drafted a law which shares financial responsibility with media (OS producers, cell phone airwave auctions) and reform of the General Mining Act of 1872. I couldn't stop the hardware producer responsibility train. Will the future cassette player manufacturer now anticipate the arrival of the CD and change their production? Hardly. But the OEMs did not see what was happening to them... they were becoming like a cigarette tax and alcohol tax and gasoline tax, something which mainly serves to increase the local government revenue base.
But we will take as consolation that reuse is still allowed in the east. Refilling ink cartridges is ok. Legal monitor refurbishing is ok. TV repair is ok. The amount of money from reuse is as important as the money from OEMs who opposed reuse (and most did not, just a few are hard core about it).
What should alarm the OEMs most is the trend to mandate more and more tonnage and to impose more and more penalties. The state ewaste legislation advocates make up a number... three pounds per resident, five pounds per resident, seven pounds per resident... New York is 8. It keep going up. Then they charge the OEM a penalty - again, increasing each version - for every pound they come up short.
I have a response for the OEMs on this one. I'm reminded that in 1998 I told them that a waste ban was not painful (white goods and tires and auto batteries were already doing it) and was a cheap trade for the removal of CRTs from Universal and Hazardous Waste rules (which we did through reuse precedents). Some of them could not see that.