The Athens-based Product Policy Institute says that a new bill introduced by the New York City Council is a powerful message to product manufacturers that they must take responsibility for the wasteful, toxic products they create.
The local law, introduced by the Speaker (Majority Leader) of New York City’s 51-member legislative body, along with Council Members Michael McMahon and Bill de Blasio, would require electronics producers to take back and recycle their products. Electronic products (computers, televisions, etc.) contain toxic substances that threaten public health and safety when landfilled or incinerated. This is the first such requirement considered by a municipal government. The state of Maine passed law last yearrequiring producer responsibility for electronic waste.
"New York City, with its population of 8 million, is an important market for the electronics industry," said Bill Sheehan, director of the independent research organization. "They cannot ignore this requirement. By setting up recycling services for consumers in New York City, the industry can apply lessons learned to other markets across the United States."
Electronic waste represents one of the fastest-growing and most hazardous components of the4 city’s waste. Electronics are only the latest challenge to face cash-strapped local government waste management programs. Recent research by the Product Policy Institute points to New York’s waste a hundred years ago when only eight percent of the waste was consumer products and packaging. Today, products and packaging comprise upwards of 75 percent of total solid waste managed by cities, and they often contain hazardous and difficult-to-manage substances.
"By providing waste collection and disposal as a public service, local governments actually encourage producers to design throwaway products," said Helen Spiegelman, president of the Product Policy Institute. "By shifting responsibility for electronics recycling back onto producers, this local law will encourage producers to use ‘cradle-to-cradle’ thinking and design better products."
The Product Policy Institute is an independent nonprofit and nonpartisan research and advocacy organization promoting product-focused environmental policies in North America that advance sustainable production and consumption and good governance. Product Policy Institute publications are available at www.productpolicy.org
CONTACT: Bill Sheehan, director, 706-613-0710
Product Policy Institute
PO Box 48433
Athens, GA 30604 USA