SACRAMENTO — Two state senators have introduced legislation to deal with so-called “e-waste,” millions of obsolete computers and televisions that are banned from landfill sites because they contain lead and other toxins.
California officials on Tuesday estimated more than 6,000 TVs and personal computers end up as detritus every day, many either illegally dumped or relegated to dusty closets before being tossed out.
“It’s a boom in California,” said Democratic Sen. Gloria Romero, whose Los Angeles-area district includes the nation’s largest landfill. “We shouldn’t be surprised, because it’s Silicon Valley.”
Romero’s bill, introduced last week, would require manufacturers to initiate collection and recycling programs for hazardous electronic scrap or pay the state to do the job for them.
A companion bill, introduced by Democratic Sen. Byron Sher, would require consumers to pay a fee upfront — much like a bottle deposit — to cover the cost of disposing cathode ray tubes unless their manufacturer offers a free program.
Manufacturers worry that a California-only fee or disposal requirement could hurt sales in the nation’s most populous state.
They’d rather the solution wait until the National Electronics Product Stewardship Initiative — a consortium of government, manufacturing, retailing and environmental interests — compiles its recommendations in another year, said Gino DiCaro of the California Manufacturers and Technology Association.
DiCaro said any program should be voluntary, such as those offered by IBM and Hewlett-Packard. IBM said it sells an average of about 200 “product take-back kits” each month at about $30 per kit, a fraction of the millions of computers it sells in the United States each year.
Some local governments have started collecting the old devices in a move to stop illegal dumping, but that could cost them — and ultimately taxpayers statewide — more than $1.2 billion over five years, according to the lobby group Californians Against Waste.