I am very excited about the discussions among a variety of stakeholders at yesterday's Midwest Regional e-Waste meeting hosted by the Computer Take-Back Coalition. The event was well organized and the presenters offered practical guidance to continue the progress toward crafting and initiating meaningful e-scrap recycling legislation.
We learned about the content of the legislation already passed in 9 states, and why some of these laws were designed as they are, recognizing the impact of politics, interest groups, and industry maturity. There is a set of realities that each state must deal with in order for this type of legislation to pass.
I believe the conditions in Wisconsin are well suited to actively advance meaningful e-scrap legislation in the state. Senator Mark Miller's aid was at the event in Chicago yesterday, along with state Representative Gary Sherman. They are very interested in this issue and I would expect legislation modeled after the Minnesota law to be introduced this fall.
With some refinements, the Minnesota law would be well suited to Wisconsin. I believe there was consensus among the Wisconsin Caucus at the meeting to move forward with this bill language and be open to tweaking it based on input from other interested parties.
Now, the focus must be turned to building a diverse support base for this legislation. It really is a win for so many groups. Cities, towns and counties can shift the cost of e-scrap recycling from their tax base to the producers (and consumers) of these products. Wisconsin business and industries can benefit by leveling the playing field and cost of e-scrap disposal and by reducing tax liabilities. (See an article I wrote last year about why businesses should support e-scrap legislation: http://wistechnology.com/article.php?id=3190) Environmental organizations can get behind the resource conservation issues. Retailers can support it in Wisconsin, following the strong backing Minnesota saw from Best Buy and Target. Recyclers can support it because it provides an increased supply of equipment to process. OEMs would appreciate its similarity with other regional legislation, thereby reducing the "patchwork" problem they fear.
I was encouraged to hear that Minnesota's and Washington's e-scrap laws passed with bi-partisan support. I was even more impressed to hear that Oregon recently passed legislation unanimously in both houses. This does not need to be controversial - it just needs to be effective. Now is the time for us to build that coalition of support, introduce the legislation, and start moving it through the process.