Libertarian National Committee Region 7

Sunday, December 21, 2008


On January 1, both Oregon and Washington will force your neighbors to pay to get rid of your electronics junk.

"Starting Jan. 1, recycle TVs, computers for free in Oregon and Washington"
                                                             Portland Oregonian  December 26, 2008

"Electronics Recycling Law May Reduce Computer Reuse" says a press release from Electronics Reuse Network.

"Beginning January 1 of 2009, televisions, monitors, computers, and laptops are required to be recycled in the State of Washington at no cost to the consumer. (No cost to the consumer?  Kind of like paying more on the front end of the computer, so that the manufacturer can pay to dispose of it at the back end?  That kind of "no cost"?)

However, according to computer reuse organizations, the new law will actually make it more difficult for computers to be refurbished and reused.

The law states that organizations can only reuse "fully functional" computers that they collect.

Miles Kuntz, manager of the Electronic Product Recycling program at Department of Ecology affirms, “The rules require that computers pulled for reuse must be fully functional.  Minor fixes or parts replacement by collectors is not allowed in the E-Cycle Washington program.”

Non-functional computers must be passed on to recyclers for processing."

Have you ever had a fully functional, but outdated PC when you bought an upgrade, and pulled the old hard drive to use as a backup?  Or had the hard drive fail on an otherwise good computer, but decided to upgrade rather than replace the hard drive?

In Washington, those computers must go to recyclers, rather than to a resale shop.

And apparently, Oregon's law is just as silly.  "This law, though well intended, is focused only on recycling. Everything coming into the state program must go to a shredder. At
NextStep, we see the value of REUSE BEFORE RECYCLING, and the importance of capturing technology and redistributing refurbished material to our community members."  Only one reuse organization is allowed to reuse computer equipment in Oregon.

Fortunately, it appears that in Florida it is still possible to reuse old equipment.

Idaho recently created a Cathode Ray Tube Disposal Committee to discuss proper end-of-life management.  (Their words - "end-of-life management"?  Assisted suicide for computer equipment?  :o)

Hawai'i has passed legislation that will force manucfaturers to recycle equipment, which goes into effect 1 July, 2009.  On first read, it does not appear that Hawai'ian law requires recycling of anything reusable.

In the past, used electronic gear has been reused here and abroad.  Relatively recent models have long been desired by low-income people and groups.  Several programs have collected used 386s and monochromatic monitors and every usable bit they can get, and shipped them to less developed countries.  When you've never seen a computer before, a 286 and green screen is still a fabulous tool.  Washington and Oregon's programs will prevent these programs from doing their work.

What's the message?  If you want something really messed up, let government do it.

Please note that the Oregonian link lists many recycling facilities in both OR and WA. in Oregon looks like a good place, and I'm not sure it's listed there.

Voluntary recycling is a better idea.  In both WA and OR, the legislatures have micromanaged it into an untenable position.

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