- New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has signed a law that will revamp the state's struggling electronics recycling program and place more responsibility on manufacturers, as reported by NJ Spotlight.
- The bill, S-981, will require manufacturers to be responsible for recycling their market share of covered materials by weight and will give the state more enforcement power to oversee this program.
- S-981 was passed by a 60-12 vote in the state legislature back in November and had been waiting on a signature from Christie since then. This bill's fate was questionable because the governor had pocket-vetoed similar legislation during the prior session. Christie's motivations remain unclear as he provided no comment on either occasion.
New Jersey has required electronics recycling since 2008, with a manufacturer responsibility requirement to provide "free and convenient" recycling since 2010. This program has struggled in the years since though due to various logistical and financial details. Like in many other states the cost burden has ended up falling on local governments and older, less valuable devices have made up a larger portion of the material coming in.
As electronics manufacturers continue to create new products that don't appear to be easily recyclable, many states are still trying to catch up with the old ones sitting in people's homes. Wisconsin recently reported a spike in cell phones coming in as CRT units declined but still remain a costly part of the waste stream. A new pilot program was also recently announced in Nebraska which will use corporate funding to assess and facilitate the state's electronic recycling network.
Varying state regulations can make this system even more complex for manufacturers working on a national level, especially when laws don't recognize all of the current products being sold and later disposed. While the climate for new e-waste legislation is seen as challenging, it may at least be possible for more states to update existing laws in the same way as New Jersey.