Legislation / Zerbor, ShutterstockA Wisconsin bill aims to increase the amount of e-scrap manufacturers are on the hook to recycle each year and ensure they collect material from rural areas. The changes mirror those recommended by state environmental officials in a recent report.

Senate Bill 621, introduced Jan. 22, shifts the way electronics manufacturers’ annual recycling targets are calculated, and the expectation is the new formula would lead to higher targets. The current calculation is based on the weight of new electronics OEMs sell into the marketplace, but because those devices are trending smaller and lighter, the targets have decreased.

For example, the 2015-16 program year target is 22.8 million pounds, down 29 percent from a high of 32 million pounds in 2012-13.

“Unless manufacturer recycling targets are updated, the collection and recycling system funded by manufacturers will continue to fall short of the electronics recycling demand of Wisconsin,” according to the annual report by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The bill would change the formula to one based on the weight of e-scrap entering the recycling stream. Such a change would “better balance the weight of electronics that need to be recycled with manufacturer target weights,” DNR staff wrote.

SB 621 also addresses decreasing collection opportunities, particularly in rural areas. During the 2014-15 program year, E-Cycle Wisconsin had 560 registered collection sites, down 18 percent from the 2012-13 high of 681 sites.

Currently, the Wisconsin e-scrap law provides an incentive to manufacturers to encourage them to serve rural areas: Each pound collected from rural areas is counted as 1.25 pounds toward a company’s recycling target.

“Since the overall weight collected has consistently exceeded manufacturer targets, however, this incentive appears to have done little to encourage collection in rural areas,” DNR officials wrote, noting that five rural counties have no collections at all.

SB 621 eliminates the incentive and requires that 10 percent of a manufacturer’s target weight consist of material collected in rural counties. If a manufacturer over-collects in rural counties, it accumulates credits. The company may then apply the rural credits to its total weight obligation for the year, save them for a future year or sell them to another manufacturer.

The bill would also require manufacturers to provide additional detail on types of materials they’ve recycled each year, and it would add to the list of covered devices video game consoles, all display devices with seven-inches-and-larger screens and peripherals such as keyboards and speakers.

The bill is supported by the Associated Recyclers of Wisconsin (AROW).

“AROW feels the proposed changes in Bill 621 to the original e-cycle bill will simplify reporting requirements for collectors and result in better data being collected and reported by recyclers,” AROW’s Christine Miller told E-Scrap News. “Many of the proposed changes will help the overall e-cycle program.”