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E-waste and the Law

Industry Trends
  • November 10 2023
  • Petra Industries
E-waste and the Law

The Dirty Problem We Must Deal With

E-waste refers to any electrical or electronic device that is thrown away and may contain harmful substances that can damage human health and nature. Per the ITU, in 2019 a record 53.6 million tons of E-waste (discarded products with a battery or plug) was discarded, up 9.2 million tons from 5 years ago. This number is expected to increase to 74.7 million tons by 2030.  As such, E-waste is a serious environmental problem that can also affect you as a manufacturer or importer of electronic products.

Did you know that as a manufacturer or importer of these products, you need to follow the E-waste regulations of each state where your product are sold or risk being banned from selling and/or facing hefty fines?

You can also face the imminent probability of losing sales with customers such as HSN and QVC, which are currently cracking down on E-waste registration. In this blog post, we will look at some of the key products that are subject to E-waste laws, discuss the differences among states in their electronic waste definitions and requirements, and share some of the best ways to achieve compliance.

What is E-waste? Controlled Electronic Devices

Most states define the E-waste products with which registration is required as a controlled electronic device (CED). A CED is a device that uses electricity to perform a specific function or task.

Some examples of controlled electronic devices are:

  • Computers
  • Printers
  • Scanners
  • TVs
  • DVD players
  • Cell phones
  • Cameras

Different states have different definitions of what constitutes a controlled electronic device for E-waste regulation purposes. Some states use a broad definition that covers any device that has a circuit board or a cathode ray tube (CRT). Others use a narrower definition that only covers specific types of devices such as desktop computers, laptops, monitors, keyboards, mice, etc. Some states also include other devices such as tablets, e-readers, gaming consoles, printers/copiers/fax machines, etc. in their definition.

See the below table for a link to each State’s E-waste guidelines to get a better idea if your product is affected by that state’s E-waste regulations.

E-waste Registration by Group

In total, 25 states so far have different procedures and fees for registering E-waste product, but for the most part they are broken down into three different groups:

States that Require Retailers to Collect a Fee that Funds their E-waste Programs

A good example of this type of program is in place in California. An E-waste Recycling Fee Account can be created using an online registration system. Retailers then collect a fee that varies depending on the size and type of the electronic device being recycled. The fee ranges from $5 for devices with screens less than 15 inches to $7 for devices with screens greater than 35 inches. This fee then goes to fund state-led recycling programs. Typically, these programs only require manufacturers to submit an annual report and to notify retailers that they are selling a CED-type product.

States that Require Manufacturers to Provide and Fund their Own E-waste Programs

A good example of this type of program is one in Petra’s home state of Oklahoma. This type of program requires that manufacturers selling more than 50 CEDs offer a free and convenient recycling service directly to consumers. It also requires that the manufacturer’s register and submit annual reports. These programs can be difficult to comply with as they require the manufacturer to organize programs within each state or create their own “mail-back” type program that will work for multiple states with which the manufacturer, or their chosen entity, will then dispose of the product.

States that Require Manufacturers to Provide a Fee that Funds their Statewide-approved Consolidators

In Maine, manufacturers must register with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and pay an annual fee based on their return share of covered electronic devices collected in the state. The fee ranges from $3,000 for manufacturers with less than 0.1% return share to $50,000 for manufacturers with more than 10% return share. The majority of E-waste states have programs that either charge a:

  • Flat registration fee
  • Fee based on sales quantity
  • Fee based on the market share of that manufacturer as determined by the state

How to Become Compliant

Overall, these three different types of programs can be difficult to comply with, and there is nothing worse than finding yourself on a state’s Do Not Sell list. However, there is some hope.

The eCycle Registration System, developed by the Electronics Recycling Coordination Clearinghouse (ERCC), provides a central location for manufacturers to register their products in multiple states. It covers:

  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island

However, for many of the other states, it requires a thorough approach of researching the website or each state’s E-waste program and working with a representative or registering through their online portal. It’s also a good idea to become familiar with each state’s Do Not Sell list to know if you are already in violation in that state.

Getting a Handle on E-waste

In conclusion, E-waste is a tricky thing to deal with. It can cause problems for you as a manufacturer or importer of electronic products. You need to follow different E-waste laws in different states, or you could face serious consequences. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here at Petra, we know E-waste and can point you in the right direction. See the table below for links to each State’s E-waste program. Interested in being a vendor partner with Petra? Click here to get started.

State Link to State’s E-Waste Program Link to State’s Registered List Link to States Do-Not Sell List
Arkansas Here N/A N/A
California Here N/A N/A
Colorado Here N/A N/A
Connecticut Here Here Here
Hawaii Here Here N/A
Illinois Here Here N/A
Indiana Here Here N/A
Maine Here Here Here
Maryland Here Here N/A
Michigan Here Here N/A
Minnesota Here Here N/A
Missouri Here N/A N/A
New Jersey Here Here N/A
New York State Here Here N/A
North Carolina Here Here Here
Oklahoma Here Here N/A
Oregon Here Here N/A
Pennsylvania Here Here N/A
Rhode Island Here N/A N/A
South Carolina Here Here N/A
Texas Here Here N/A
Vermont Here Here N/A
Virginia Here Here N/A
Washington Here N/A N/A
Washington D.C. Here N/A N/A
West Virginia Here Here N/A
Wisconsin Here Here Here