Illinois is set to put a legislative Band-Aid on the state’s e-scrap program, requiring electronics manufacturers to collect and recycle more material in coming years.
Passed unanimously by both the state House of Representatives and Senate, HB 1455 would require manufacturers to collect and recycle a combined 23,300 tons of e-scrap in 2015 and 24,800 tons in 2016 and 2017.
That’s up from the 21,102 tons they were required to manage in 2014. The 2014 target decreased from the year before, and, without the legislation, the number would drop again this year, to 18,426 tons. Such decreases have occurred because the targets are based on the weight of new electronics sold into the market, and the lightweighting trend in consumer electronics has led to lower overall tonnages in that space.
“We specifically recognized a crisis situation. We wanted to do something to address the crisis, but – we all know this – we need a long-term solution,” said Marta Keane, recycling specialist for Will County and past president of the Illinois Recycling Association.
According to Jerry Peck, associate director of government affairs for the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA), the updated targets came from input from municipal waste agencies. “They said, ‘This is what we think we need to keep the doors open over the next two years,'” Peck explained.
Peck and Keane both said they see the legislation as a short-term fix to the overarching problems in the state’s e-scrap infrastructure.
Keane said the new targets still aren’t ideal, but she noted stakeholders expect less e-scrap to be collected in 2015 because programs closed or reduced drop-off locations or collection events.
Another segment of the bill explicitly allows CRT glass deposited into retrievable storage cells to count toward manufacturers’ weight targets. E-Scrap News previously covered that part of the legislation.
As a whole, the bill aims to address the industry-wide issue of manufacturers hitting their targets before the end of the year and halting payments for e-scrap recycling. That phenomenon has forced municipalities in many states to deal with accumulated material on their own.
The bill also makes other notable changes to the state’s e-scrap law:
- It requires, beginning in 2016, all recycling facilities used to meet the law’s requirements must be certified as meeting R2 or e-Stewards standards (or an equivalent certification program recognized by the U.S. EPA). Currently, those certifications prohibit the use of retrievable storage as an approved recycling outlet for CRTs.
- It specifies that recycling firms can’t charge local governments to take their collected e-scrap, or vice versa.
- It offers credits to manufacturers exceeding their target. They can roll over 25 percent of the weight over their target to a future year, or sell that credit to another company. For example, if a company needs to collect 50 tons but ends up collecting 54 tons, it could roll 1 ton of credits over to the next year.
- It allows the weight of treated CRT glass deposited into retrievable storage cells at a landfill to count toward the manufacturers’ weight targets.
- It changes penalties for electronics manufacturers’ that fail to meet their targets. For previous years, the law said if a manufacturer came in with less than 70 percent of its target, it would be charged 70 cents for each uncollected pound. The new law says that, starting this year, they’ll be charged 45 cents per pound if they collect less than 50 percent of their target or 35 cents per pound if they collect between 50 percent and 90 percent of their target. If they fall just short, collecting 91 percent to 99 percent, they won’t be penalized.
The Illinois EPA is already conducting a comprehensive study of the state’s e-scrap program and is scheduled to deliver a final report in February 2016, Peck said. He envisions stakeholders will use the report to inform negotiations over a bill to provide a more-permanent fix to the program, he said.
Keane said she expects the stakeholders will be back at the table discussing a long-term fix by the end of summer.