New York City E-Waste Law being replaced by strong New York State statute
A 2008 e-waste law established by New York City for gathering and recycling discarded electronic items faced stiff opposition from manufacturers, who filed a 2009 lawsuit in federal court. A federal court judge dismissed the NYC lawsuit on June 28 because a comparable New York state law will take precedence.
The NYC law would have made electronics manufacturing firms accountable for the costs of handling discarded electronics items, known as e-waste, using a concept called “producer responsibility.” Led by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and the Information Technology Industry Council (ITIC), manufacturers filed a lawsuit in 2009 to prevent implementation of the NYC statute.
As the fastest growing segment of the waste output in the United States, e-waste is poorly managed in the United States, creating environmental issues that need to be addressed. City laws like the NYC statute are being challenged in court by a flurry of lawsuit challenges from manufacturers lobbying for weak national e-waste laws to take precedence over state and municipal laws, according to the Electronics TakeBack Coalition.
The dismissal of the lawsuit allows NYC to instead utilize the strong state e-waste law to enforce environmentally-sound handling of the piles of discarded electronics it faces. However, the major issue of handling e-waste responsibly remains to be resolved. States and cities like NYC are passing laws with varying requirements, and movement toward a cohesive national e-waste policy at the federal level is lethargic due to economic issues and special interests.
Until federal legislation is firmly in place to address the recycling of electronics, we can expect to see more lawsuit activity against states and municipalities introducing strong legislation on the subject of e-waste. NYC and New York State are to be applauded for their attempts to improve the environment.