A bill that’s passed through North Carolina’s Senate would repeal the state’s electronics recycling program.
House Bill 765, which passed North Carolina’s Senate by a vote of 31-17 last week and aims to cut a number of regulatory provisions beyond those dealing with e-scrap, now sits in the House Committee for the Environment. The 23-member committee is expected to meet July 21 to discuss the legislation and hear public comment.
Counties with e-scrap recycling programs already in place are fearful the bill, which calls for an end of the state’s manufacturer-funded electronics recycling structure, will lead to six-figure collection costs for local governments and a possible cutting back of services.
“Rough cost estimates can be greater than $100,000 each year based on our current tonnage,” Eric Gerringer, the recycling programs manager for Orange County, North Carolina, told E-Scrap News. “Whether or not we reduce services is something we would need to review.”
Orange County is located in the Raleigh-Durham area and includes the municipality of Chapel Hill.
Lisa Rider, the assistant director of coastal Onslow County’s solid waste department, says while she’s committed to continuing to provide recycling services, annual costs could exceed $150,000 to do so.
“It’s going to be up to us to figure out how we’re going to cover that expense,” Rider said.
North Carolina’s current e-scrap program requires manufacturers of computers and televisions to pay annual program fees of up to $17,500 to help fund community-based collection and recycling programs and events for end-of-life electronics. TV manufacturers also pay the full recycling cost for tonnages of material based on national market share.
Those fees and quotas have allowed counties in the state to receive free or low-cost recycling services from a number of local and national processors.
If the bill were to become law, manufacturer fees and recycling requirements would be eliminated. Rider of Onslow County said a trailer-load of materials would cost the county $5,000 to $6,000 to handle “where before, it was free.”
Molly Diggins, the director of the North Carolina chapter of the Sierra Club, said the e-scrap program, in place since July 2010, “has been a resounding success.”
“It’s convenient, it’s free for consumers, it’s available for all 100 counties in North Carolina and it has addressed an important environmental need,” Diggins said. “From talking to members in the House, we know they’re hearing a fair amount about this bill from local governments that are very concerned, and they’re hearing from recycling companies themselves.”
Diggins said the “House is perhaps not seeing why we need to make this change – that doesn’t mean they won’t, but they at least think the question should be asked.”
Introduced in April as a one-page bill regarding restrictions for load-bearing vehicles on state highways, the nearly 60-page bill now known as the Regulatory Reform Act of 2015 has undergone a sizable makeover since its initial introduction. The bill calls for a number of cuts to “unnecessary or outdated statutes or regulations,” among them the state’s electronics recycling program.
North Carolina’s landfill ban on electronics would not be repealed under the legislation, which was introduced by Rep. Pat McElrath, a Republican who represents a district near North Carolina’s northern coast.
McElrath did not return a request for comment.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Electronic Recyclers International (ERI) was opposed to the N.C. legislation. It should be noted that ERI has never commented on its position. E-Scrap News regrets the error.