Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Earth Upgrades Hardware

States Push Makers' Role In Disposing of Electronic Waste 199

Posted by timothy
from the pretty-well-known-huh dept.
AaronParsons writes "An interesting NY Times article describes currently available programs for post-consumer electronics. One of the many interesting points in the article is that electronics manufacturers should be held responsible for recycling their products post-consumer: 'Maybe since they have some responsibility for the cleanup, it will motivate them to think about how you design for the environment and the commodity value at the end of the life.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

States Push Makers' Role In Disposing of Electronic Waste

Comments Filter:
  • by Art Popp (29075) * on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @11:06AM (#28528659)

    I live in Washington and take my old computers to RePC. They charge a fee, $5 to $10 a unit that depends entirely on the labor to rip it apart into its "differently recycled pieces." They have huge heaps of PCBs in one pile, metal caes in another, I assume crushable plastic was hiding behind those.

    If you get the federal government involved they will put a tax on the manufacturers (which we will pay for our new toys), and then they'll go spend it elsewhere (e.g. social security). That's inane. I'm sorry the mega-corps have to deal with all the state laws, but they have lawyers for that sort of thing already.

    Even if the money collected were in a closed loop, (which it won't be), having the consumer put the five dollar bills in the hands of the company doing the work seems vastly more efficient than anything that we could do with "national taxes by weight/volume/content," "recycling-prepaid" stamps and typical regulation details.

    • by Itninja (937614) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @11:17AM (#28528817) Homepage
      I agree that getting big-fed involved is a bad idea. But anything that encourages electronics makers to use pressed cornmeal for gadget housing is fine by me. And you know those 'recycle your electronics' places are mostly just a feel-good business right? There is absolutely no regulation or anything else that prevents them from taking all those heaps of scrap where ever it's cheapest (even if it's a landfill).
      • by cayenne8 (626475)
        I just dispose of it the old fashioned way, I chunk it in the trash can by the curb for the garbagemen pick it up and haul it away.

        That being said, my experience for the past decade or so in New Orleans, if you set anything like that on top of the can(s), it will 'disappear' overnight before the trash truck comes.

        I think of it as human nature taking over the recycling. I've rarely had anything that appeared of value not get picked up by someone who wanted it.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by morgauxo (974071)

          I'll second that. I tend to keep a lot of electronic parts for reuse myself so whatever I throw out is pretty bad and yet with that kind of stuff I just set it out a day or two early and not bagged. It very rarely makes it to the landfill. Likewise I'm not above rescuing other people's stuff from the landfill if I see a part or two I might like. I'd hate to see this most efficient method of reuse go away!

          Perhaps if people were a bit more thoughtfull and put things out with a free sign instead of chuckin

      • by Useful Wheat (1488675) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @11:59AM (#28529515)

        In Grand Junction, Colorado it is illegal to simply dump your electronics in the trash. You're required to pay a $50 processing fee for all old electronics. This includes computers, televisions, and basically anything larger than an iPod. $5-10 to dipose of your electronics with this other company is not a bad deal at all.

        • by jedidiah (1196) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @12:41PM (#28530355) Homepage

          THIS is where the real problem is.

          The Feds should stop beating up on the industry and instead beat up on the Municipal governements.

          Dealing with trash is what they are supposed to be responsible for.

          I shouldn't have to do anything more than put my electronics in the
          recycling bin with the rest of the stuff they're supposed to be
          recycling. Although my town has odd limits on stuff you would think
          would be pretty trivial to recycle already.

          In general, they seem to be cost cutting a bit too much and forget that
          the garbage men are ultimately there to help prevent the next outbreak
          of the BLACK DEATH. Automated trucks that leave the street covered in
          trash kind of defy the point.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by LuYu (519260)

            The Feds should stop beating up on the industry and instead beat up on the Municipal governements.

            Dealing with trash is what they are supposed to be responsible for.

            Why, precisely, should the manufacturers not be responsible for toxic waste that they generate? This is especially true since if they manufacture things to have a short lifetime so they can sell more products, they are deliberately generating more trash and profiting from it. These manufacturers are profiting at the expense of our health.

        • by vertinox (846076)

          You're required to pay a $50 processing fee for all old electronics. This includes computers, televisions, and basically anything larger than an iPod.

          Lately I have found it more cost effective to dissemble old electronics and mail them to the people living in 3rd world nations.

        • by cayenne8 (626475)
          "In Grand Junction, Colorado it is illegal to simply dump your electronics in the trash. You're required to pay a $50 processing fee for all old electronics. This includes computers, televisions, and basically anything larger than an iPod. $5-10 to dipose of your electronics with this other company is not a bad deal at all."

          How the hell do they know what you throw away?

          Do your garbage men actually stop and take the time at each house to go through every person's can(s) full of trash to pick out the 'not

        • The local Austin Goodwill, in a team effort with Dell, provides free electronics recycling at all Goodwill dropoff locations in the central Texas region.

          At, say $25 a pop, I bet there's profit to be made loading a big truck or a few train cars with purchased "used" electronics, shipping it to Texas, then giving it to Goodwill for recycling. Residents of Grand Junction save $25 per item.

    • by schon (31600) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @11:21AM (#28528875)

      Currently, product waste is an "externality" - the cost of recycling/disposing of the product is borne by someone other than the manufacturer. When buying a new item, virtually all consumers don't take into account the cost of disposal, but it still needs to be paid.

      Making the manufacturers responsible for recycling/disposal of their products means that they will need to increase their price to the consumer, thereby showing the true cost of the product at purchase time.

      BTW, I'm told New Zealand currently has a similar law (for all products, not just electronics), and it works quite well.

      • by tomhudson (43916)

        There's one way that recycling can be done profitably for the retailer - let them have bins so we can strip the excess packaging off our purchases. Pre-sorted, easily sellable packaging materials (cardboard and paper, plastic, etc).

        They'd make a profit off it AND get the "feel-good" greenies.

      • by Exoman (595415) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @12:15PM (#28529819)

        Currently, product waste is an "externality" - the cost of recycling/disposing of the product is borne by someone other than the manufacturer.

        Yeah, externalities, essentially, dumping your dog's crap in your neighbor's yard hoping they won't notice.

        Cradle-to-cradle [mcdonough.com] describes the process of designing for full lifecyle. McDonough distinguishes "re-cycling" from "down-cycling" the process we generally use today that recycles plastics such at PET into playground equipment and fleece.

        Designing for re-use, disassembly, and re-use gives companies such as Interface [interfaceglobal.com] a competitive advantage while reducing externalities.

        Free markets can be good at this, but externalities must be internalize, or it is simply not a free market. This is a valid role for governments, working to ensure a level playing field that doesn't give anyone an unfair right to abuse the commons. Once that level playing field is established, eliminating perverse subsidies, smart companies *will* go to more cradle-to-cradle designs because it makes great sense on so many levels.

        • Interesting ideas. I always through the term "recycling" was misleading because usually it's impossible to make the -same- item again. Recycling a plastic bottle should mean making -other bottles-, not some puke-gray ergonomically horrific park bench (just how many of those does the world actually need?) Of course, entropy being what it is, I don't expect anybody to be able to make a perfect one-to-one conversion, but most 'recycling' efforts don't even try. Other examples: used tires being ground into
          • Actually, your typical soda bottle IS recycled back into bottles, the PET it's made from is much to expensive to not reclaim.
            For someone in the recycling industry, electronics recycling has become politically desirable but economically it's gone down the drain. When we started investigating reclamation of material from electronics in the early nineties, most of the electronics were literal gold mines, after evaporating off the plastic and separating off the metals you had a sand with 1% gold in some cases.
    • Nature has processes that compose and decompose living things. For example, sex produces a Slashdotter. The Slashdotter consumes the food of nature, grows, and matures. After the Slashdotter dies, we bury him in a forest without a coffin. Bacteria will decompose his body. Wild animals may smell the body, dig it up, and feed on it. The Slashdotter came from the dust, and he will return to the dust.

      Now, compare that process to the man-made process of building, say, a computer. From the dust, we assemb

    • ...they'll go spend it elsewhere (e.g. social security)

      Wrong. The federal government has taken 2.4 trillion dollars *from* social security between 1984 and 2006 for use in normal day to day operations. SS is still running a surplus today.

      I understand from your post that you don't like SS, but your claim is simply wrong.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/11/06/60minutes/main4579229.shtml

      Here is often where that stuff ends up in. Some place in rural china with monitors stacked up into shear walls. Toxic levels in the water 190x the WHO limits and water has to be brought in. Burning plastic and pouring acid to extract trace amounts of gold. This isn't the only site out there either.

  • Paradigm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bwthomas (796211) <bwthomas@g m a i l . c om> on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @11:08AM (#28528689)

    I find it interesting that we're willing to push this as an ad hoc solution but not a paradigm. Maybe all manufacturers should be forced to take responsibility for the amount of waste their products generate, not just the makers of soda cans & computers?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Why should a manufacturer that has created a product and sold it on to a new owner be held responsible for its disposal.

      Simply because the consumer/owner has subsequently reclassified the product as waste does not return ownership to the manufacturer. Nor should it return responsibility for its disposal to the manufacturer.

      This is a very simple concept but, the incredible ignorance of the growing masses is dragging all of us down into this ridiculous argument.

      'Wha wha. I shouldn't be responsible for my own

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cyphercell (843398)

        Oh for the love of god. 90% of the tech shit you buy these days is designed to fail in two or three years. Yea, a lot of crap makes it past the three year mark, but most of it is DESIGNED to be thrown out. i.e. they are engineering waste.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by i.r.id10t (595143)

          So aim for hte low hanging fruit - excessive packaging....

          • I'd settle for recyclable packaging.
            How many plastic packages have you seen without a recycling triangle to identify the type of plastic used?

        • Bullshit.

          I've still got a Commodore 64, an NES, an atari, a working cellphone from 2004, a working cellphone from 2006, plenty of old USB keys, several old MP3 players (256mb, 1gig) and countless still-working computer parts built up over the ages, dating back to the mid-90s.

          In fact, with the exception of a couple of laptop Harddrives, I can't recall the last piece of technology that simply broke or died on me.
        • by russotto (537200)

          Oh for the love of god. 90% of the tech shit you buy these days is designed to fail in two or three years. Yea, a lot of crap makes it past the three year mark, but most of it is DESIGNED to be thrown out. i.e. they are engineering waste.

          The stuff I buy at the grocery store rarely lasts a week. Should we charge farmers for sewage plants?

      • by A. B3ttik (1344591) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @12:15PM (#28529829)
        Gotta love Slashdot... someone makes an honest, intelligent point that goes against the Green/Liberal/Anti-Government/Anti-Corporation mindset and they're instantly modded FLAMEBAIT.

        Please, he makes a good point: Why should manufacturers be charged for materials that they have given up all rights and ownership to?

        So if a person refuses to recycle something, it's somehow the manufacturer's fault? How is the manufacturer supposed to know or control whether the consumer lets their product rot on a shelf for 10 years or throw it into a river two days later?

        By charging the manufacturer for how the consumer disposes of their product, you are now granting them the _responsibility_ to take charge of how the consumer disposes of it, which is nearly impossible to enforce with Orwellian-style RFID tags in every product.

        What exactly are any of you suggesting that the manufacturers do different, or is this just a way to milk some more easy money from those 'fat corporate pigs?'
        • by hemp (36945)

          This is the same argument used by asbestos manufacturers years ago.

          • This is the same argument used by asbestos manufacturers years ago.

            You'll have to refresh my memory: How is this _anything_ like asbestos?

            Asbestos is outright harmful to individuals. Therefore, you are no longer allowed to distribute it, anymore than you are allowed to distribute Cyanide Poison Cupcakes.

            Unless you are saying that electronics manufacturers should not be allowed to distribute electronics because they are harmful to their users, I'm not quite sure what your point is.

            Besides, it's not like Asbestos Manufacturers were required to pay an "Asbestos Tax"

        • There's a dichotomy going on: I buy this, it is mine to do with as I like (Windows, beer) vs I buy this and it is mine until I tire of it, and then it is your problem once again. Perhaps we need a deposit fee to ensure proper consumer behaviour, after all it is the buyers who end up throwing the stuff in the garbage. And we cannot seem to be responsible for our own actions. Pay an extra $50 bucks that you get back when you return it. This worked for glass bottles (we should still do that because re-use
        • It's flamebait because even if the AC has a reasonable point to begin with, it degenerates into name calling and, I would argue, unrelated specious arguments all within a few sentences.

          Yes the consumer bought the material, but it's not like a company can release all claim of that manufactured product now. Everything from meat, to children's toys, to vacuum cleaners get recalled for various defects, possible defects, other problems fairly often. If you don't believe me, walk into a Toys-R-Us, Walmart, etc
        • You fucking retards. How is this any different than recycling ink toner cartridges and printer parts? And I don't give a shit who still has a working Commodore 64, it doesn't change the fact that $35 DVD players are pieces of shit. BTW, why don't DVDs and CDs have sleeves a la floppy discs? That was in the original design. And that $200 PC you get at walmart is not likely to last as long as an old-school Nintendo. Yes actually there's a lot of shit that is specifically designed to suck ass. Not because of t

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SydShamino (547793)

        Manufacturers should be responsible for the disposal of their products because, eventually, everything they make will be disposed. Free markets FAIL when the market can ignore the cost of shared resources. This includes air and water and things talked about by the EPA, but it also includes material resources and landfill space.

        Requiring manufacturers to pay the true cost of production is the best way to enable a free market that is actually sustainable. The alternative is regulation that dictates the met

  • by sckeener (137243) <sterling@te[ ]keeners.org ['xas' in gap]> on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @11:08AM (#28528703)
    Wouldn't this be a good idea for all products? The only downside I see is higher prices, but I think the motivation companies have of cutting costs would benefit the world.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Wouldn't this be a good idea for all products? The only downside I see is higher prices, but I think the motivation companies have of cutting costs would benefit the world.

      Yes, but start with electronics. Today's electronics are designed to be non repairable and are largely considered disposable after they become obsolete, despite the levels of cadmium, mercury and lead found in them.

    • People throw their old hardware away?

      Sheesh. I still have a couple of 300 meg drives sitting around for posterity.

      • I HAVE to throw away my old computers and parts or I will be forced to put them to work in some manner.

        • by Zancarius (414244)

          I HAVE to throw away my old computers and parts or I will be forced to put them to work in some manner.

          And that's a bad thing? ;)

          *cue Beowulf cluster jokes*

    • by schon (31600) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @11:25AM (#28528937)

      Wouldn't this be a good idea for all products?

      Yes.

      The only downside I see is higher prices

      No, the price remains the same - the disposal cost exists whether it's paid by the manufacturer or the consumer. The only difference is that it all needs to be paid up-front, rather than the disposal cost being paid after the product's useful life.

      • by vertinox (846076)

        The only difference is that it all needs to be paid up-front, rather than the disposal cost being paid after the product's useful life.

        What if product is never disposed of or the price of disposal drops in the future?

    • by raju1kabir (251972) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @11:31AM (#28529051) Homepage
      That's more or less how it works in Germany. It hasn't been perfect, but has resulted in less packaging and more use of recyclable components.
  • How the? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @11:10AM (#28528721)

    One of the many interesting points in the article is that electronics manufacturers should be held responsible for recycling their products post-consumer: 'Maybe since they have some responsibility for the cleanup, it will motivate them to think about how you design for the environment and the commodity value at the end of the life.'"

    How the crap do you do that? Lets see, Intel makes a top of the line CPU called the Core i7, however within 3 years, that CPU will be considered mid to low end. So what is Intel to do? Stop making CPUs until they manage to make the fastest one ever then abandon the CPU market? Heck, most of the waste was caused by the government mandating the DTV switch. Technology evolves independent of the manufacturer.

    • Re:How the? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jollyreaper (513215) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @11:24AM (#28528915)

      How the crap do you do that? Lets see, Intel makes a top of the line CPU called the Core i7, however within 3 years, that CPU will be considered mid to low end. So what is Intel to do? Stop making CPUs until they manage to make the fastest one ever then abandon the CPU market? Heck, most of the waste was caused by the government mandating the DTV switch. Technology evolves independent of the manufacturer.

      The problem is a matter of properly accounting for the full cost to society. If I have a tree on my property and it falls in your yard, I have to pay for disposal. If I'm burning leaves in my yard and catch your house on fire, I'm on the hook. This makes sense.

      If I'm a mega-corp and am pumping pollutants in the sky, nobody really gets on my case for it. I could increase the local cancer rate and any class-action suit against me would be tied up in courts for years as I force you to try and prove the connection. The lawyer fees are chump change compared to what I'm saving by not cleaning my emissions.

      If I'm a beverage bottler, I'm pumping out a billion plastic bottles a year. It's holding five minutes worth of beverage and will be on this planet for ten thousand years or more. Currently there's no law telling me what I'm doing is wrong but it has as much impact as my previous example of burning leaves and setting your house on fire. Because the problems are bigger and harder for us to grasp, they're harder for us to deal with effectively.

      Nobody is telling manufacturers they aren't allowed to remain in business but they are being told that they have to consider the environmental impact of their business model just as carefully as they look into their market research.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Darkness404 (1287218)
        However, your argument fails to account for 2009 technology. Recycling creates pollution, recycling many times takes much more energy then just dumping them in a landfill. Landfills can over time be turned into parks, housing developments, etc. Plus the US has a ton of land, particularly land that has no current use. Technology will eventually get to the point where theres no need to use toxic substances (not because of regulation but because if you want to have decent performance you just don't use them).
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by maxume (22995)

          It is likely that landfills will eventually be mined for the valuable resources that they contain.

        • by Bakkster (1529253)

          However, your argument fails to account for 2009 technology. Recycling creates pollution, recycling many times takes much more energy then just dumping them in a landfill.

          What you forget to take into account is that all the materials used in electronics manufacturing are non-renewable resources. In time the energy needed to recycle these resources will come from renewable sources, but we have only a limited supply of silicon, cadmium, nickel, copper, etc.

          That said, the only way that manufacturers are going to make their electronics easier to recycle will be by footing them with a portion of the bill. The simpler it is to scrap the parts by component material, the less they

          • Sure, but Silicon ranks only below oxygen in abundance. Cadmium, nickel and copper are also quite abundant. We /might/ have to recycle them but none of the materials are scarce in any way.
            • Ha ha
              copper is "so abundand" that rising copper prices alone tripled the Metrorapid magrail project price in Germany over three years, killing the project.

              Also, copper "so abundand" that people risk their lives stealing railway electric wiring so they can get good money at the scrap metal merchant.

        • Re:How the? (Score:5, Informative)

          by dunkelfalke (91624) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @12:00PM (#28529525)

          Sorry, but you are talking bullshit.

          I used to work for some waste management companies.
          Recycling makes lot of sense and while it does create pollution, it creates much less pollution than producing new raw materials. This is especially true for all kinds of metal, paper, glas and more expensive forms of plastics (like polycarbonate).

          Since the raw material supply is finite, recycling will return even more money in the future than it does now already - and 2009 technologies allow recycling to be pretty profitable in first place. Thus it makes sense to invest in recycling technologies now (or being caught with your trousers down in the future).

          • by eth1 (94901)

            But at some point in the future, someone will probably come up with technology that basically allows you to put trash and power in one end, and get useful stuff out the other with a minimum of cost & mess. What I got from the GP's post was that maybe it makes more sense than we think to just toss the stuff on a heap until we can deal with it more effectively. Obviously there's some things that make sense to recycle now, but I predict that landfills are going to turn into gold mines at some point in the

            • You basically believe in deus ex machina. I have to disappoint you, reality doesn't work that way. If you don't invest money into recycling technology and research now, no invention would magically appear later.

        • Technology will eventually get to the point where theres no need to use toxic substances (not because of regulation but because if you want to have decent performance you just don't use them).

          You're joking, right? Or you are you merely oblivious? Toxic substances will be used in any and every process and product imaginable if
          A) the manufacturer thinks they can get away with it due to lack of regulation or the complication of proving a claim in our legal system, and
          B) the manufacturer saves one-half penny or more per product sold.

      • Re:How the? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by bmajik (96670) <matt@mattevans.org> on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @12:01PM (#28529551) Homepage Journal

        Why not just bill people for their garbage?

        The disposal costs of this stuff aren't an "externality" -- they're just low, plain and simple. It has become very fashionable for environmentalists to try and pull one over on people using the power of government, and this smells like the same tactic. Companies have lots of money, nobody will get mad if "we" make them plan to recycle stuff they make later.

        Well, I'll get mad. I don't want to pay more for it up front, I don't want the government to mandate that every product be planned for a 3 year obsolescence, and I don't think any of this crap is the government's job to begin with.

        If there truly is some cost of disposing of electronics, rather than trying to tie it back to the original manufacturer (who will wisely go out of business once they have a looming mountain of garbage they are on the hook for... thereby getting a double windfall, since they over-charged you for the goods originally, and will not be around when its time to recycle it), make customers bear that cost, and make it clear what the composition of the item is at purchase time.

        This is statist/environmentalist activism, not economically sound action.

        • Why not just bill people for their garbage?

          Because that way companies would have absolutely zero incentives to produce easily/cheaply recyclable goods. To put it in other words, everything would stay the same with the sole exception that the people (i.e., you and me) would be forced to pay for a service that they do not have any influence on.

          • by bmajik (96670)

            Because that way companies would have absolutely zero incentives to produce easily/cheaply recyclable goods. To put it in other words, everything would stay the same with the sole exception that the people (i.e., you and me) would be forced to pay for a service that they do not have any influence on

            This is garbage. [ha ha].

            Customers will produce easy to recycle / not-containing-too-much-material-that-needs-to-be-recycled goods as soon as customers start demanding them, via abstaining from buying existing go

        • by cayenne8 (626475)
          "Why not just bill people for their garbage?"

          Err...don't people already do that?

          My trash bill is part of my sewerage and water bill every month or so...

          • by bmajik (96670)

            Mine too. Apparently, the people behind this don't think my trash bill is high enough, because the "Actual costs" of throwing stuff away are higher than what I am paying.

            Never mind that I am not normally allowed to throw away computer parts in my weekly garbage anyhow.

      • If I have a tree on my property and it falls in your yard, I have to pay for disposal.

        A more proper analogy would be: A man buys a tree from you, plants it in his yard, cuts it down, and then charges you to clean it up.

        If I'm burning leaves in my yard and catch your house on fire, I'm on the hook.

        A more proper analogy would be: I buy leaves from you, accidentally burn my neighbor's house down, but now you're responsible.

        Making companies pay for their waste is one thing. Making them pay for the waste of an individual too lazy to recycle is something else entirely.

  • This is Bullshit (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    You tree huggers can vote me down all you want but, you know that this is bullshit!

    Where does this BS end? McDonalds to be held responsible for the recycling of cups and bags? GM to be held responsible for the recycling of their cars?

    Sure it sounds great to you because it doesn't inconvenience you, yet. I suppose that you will continue to turn a blind eye to the reality of this until you yourself are held responsible for something that you create and sell on but, must recycle years later.

    The company has sol

    • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @11:17AM (#28528823)
      While this post is written in an inflammatory style, I would have to say that I agree with it. It makes no sense for companies to have to recycle things that they made years down the line. There are some things that /will/ go obsolete no matter how "green" you design them. Heck, governments create part of it too (look at the DTV transition). You make a product and you sell it, once it is sold you should have no liability for the product unless it was defective or unsafe along with limits on when you can get damages. For example, 30 years from now if we find that the glass used in the iPhone caused skin deformities but Apple could have no knowledge of that, it makes no sense to sue Apple for that. Similarly, when I want to throw away an old computer, its not the computer makers fault that I want to throw it away.
      • by Duradin (1261418)

        The other option the politicians have is to tell their constituents to properly dispose of their junk. That wouldn't be a very popular position.

        The option which will be more likely to get them re-elected is to "stick it to the greedy corps" (mind you, I'm no fan of corporations). This option lets the politician be green and anti-greedy-corporation as well as relieving the voters of a bothersome responsibility.

      • (...) It makes no sense for companies to have to recycle things that they made years down the line. There are some things that /will/ go obsolete no matter how "green" you design them.(...)

        It's not about not making things obsolete. It's ultimately about the consumer paying the full cost of the object they purchase, instead of saddling the rest of society with it. If my 1 cent product packaging costs 10 cents to dispose of, it should cost 11 cents.

      • The DTV transition is a bad example. Televisions didnt lose their ability to receive a signal and display images, its simply the signal was altered, and old sets are easily modified to conform to the new signal. Not the same at all.

      • You make a product and you sell it, once it is sold you should have no liability for the product unless it was defective or unsafe along with limits on when you can get damages. For example, 30 years from now if we find that the glass used in the iPhone caused skin deformities but Apple could have no knowledge of that, it makes no sense to sue Apple for that.

        You bet your bottom dollar I'd sue apple for that. I'd win too.

        Similarly, when I want to throw away an old computer, its not the computer makers fault that I want to throw it away.

        Your use of the word "fault" is obscuring the issue. The problem is that your old computer has hazardous pieces that need to be disposed. Ultimately, you have the choice of three groups to pay for that cleanup. The company that used environmentally hazardous parts in it's construction, "you" as the consumer, or "you" the tax payer. Whether it's "you" or "the manufacturer", payment for recycling will be cheaper than payment for cleanup.

        Most li

    • by m0s3m8n (1335861)
      Right on the spot. Responsibility is on the owner.
      • While mostly agreeing with you, why shouldn't manufacturers consider making products that are easier to recycle? Maybe a few changes in the manufacturing process would allow for easier disposal by the consumer in the future?
    • by db32 (862117)
      Where does this BS end? I think the more appropriate question is "Where does this BS start?" The simple answer is the lack of personal responsibility. Any plan that takes away responsibility from the individual is always a hit. The whole "make the government solve all our problems" is disgusting, and both political leanings tend to do it quite a bit.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SydShamino (547793)

      Where does this BS end? McDonalds to be held responsible for the recycling of cups and bags?

      Yes, great idea! I agree 100%. If McDonalds has to pay an up-front cost when the sell a styrofoam cup that won't degrate for 1000 years, or they could choose to pay a much smaller up-front cost for a soybean-derived cup that's just as durable for the five minutes it's needed, but will break down within 5 years in a land fill, they just might choose the more environmentally-responsible option.

      Manufacturers have to pay the true cost to produce their products. That's the best way to retain the best possible

  • This idea seems solid, tell me what I'm missing.

    So we have a pile of old laptops that we need to recycle. We dump them in one of those industrial shredders that reduce them to powder. We run the powder through centrifuges to separate the pieces by weight. This part's probably the really, really complicated bit but the end result is purified feedstock to put back into the manufacturing process. Here's the aluminum, here's the old bits of plastic, and so forth.

    Obviously, if this were really cheap and economic

    • by gtall (79522)

      You probably just managed to make the recycling problem a lot harder. Now you have powder that has to be centrifuged but there's no guarantee or science that I know of that will separate out the constituent particles so that you can say, these be aluminum. What you are likely to get are strata composed of really well mixed stuff that will be almost impossible to separate short of chemical processes. Those processes tend to be on the dirty side.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Bah, this has been common in Europe for some years. Also, where I live, if your dispose of your electronics properly you get to pay less garbage collection tax.

    • Bah, this has been common in Europe for some years. Also, where I live, if your dispose of your electronics properly you get to pay less garbage collection tax.

      How do they know that you have any electronics to dispose of? Or is it a matter of if you don't dispose of any electronics in the proper way you pay more, whether you actually dispose of any electronics or not?

  • Fact is, that in most parts of the U.S., land is abundant and cheap compared to the problems posed by recycling problematic and impure materials like electronics. Recycling is a pollution prone process at best, more so when chemical separation steps are involved. The zen-like aesthetic appeal of a closed system of recycling doesn't match reality. Goods like these can, at best, be "downcycled" into products of considerably lower utility and value

    In the post-RoHS, post-CRT era, electronics are no more prob

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @11:20AM (#28528855)

    We need to start treating it like one.

  • by Shivetya (243324) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @11:21AM (#28528877) Homepage Journal

    Is what it really means. So the state doesn't want to be liable for what is in their landfills and as such passes the responsibility onto manufacturers because the state cannot go after every consumer but can damn well go after a manufacture. As such costs go up as everyone pays for the small percentage of people tossing stuff wrongly.

    It is an easy sale for governments, big bad evil companies versus poor little school children drinking polluted water.

    Just like the deposit tax on bottles, we all pay it, but who benefits? Supposedly all of us, but who gets the money and who benefits by it not being done?

    I have no problem with manufactures being encouraged to make cleaner products, I do have a problem by the lies foisted onto the public how its the manufacturers responsibility to ensure disposal of the device after its use. How long before the disposal becomes a requirement by law? These laws can eventually turned into a system where all we do is lease everything we use because the manufacture can use government mandates stating that product "X" must be turned in NOW because the state claims that something about it doesn't fit current environmental laws, all at the behest of some good lobbying.

  • by quax (19371) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @11:30AM (#28529031)

    Manufactures already have programs [sony.net] to take back their junk in order to comply with the WEEE EU directive [wikipedia.org]. This has been law now for more than 5 years. Rather than discussing this idea as something theoretical lawmakers in the US would be well advised to study if an how this works in Europe.

  • by fast turtle (1118037) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @11:49AM (#28529327) Journal

    If this is what it takes to return the United States to a proper service economy instead of the rampant consumerism we've had forced down our throats for the last 30+ years, then I'm all for it because I'd personally be willing to spend a bit more for a product that can be repaired easily and that doesn't fall apart the day after the warranty expires unlike the crap I've seen for the last decade.

  • There is a lot of money in recycling - the industry continues to grow. Don't tell me that this effort needs to cost anybody anything aside a few extra acres for a new company with new jobs. Anything else is an excuse for raping the public in some nefariously placed capitalistic manner.

    Further, as a people, we have every-right to mandate laws that will help reduce the waste stream and provide a better quality of live for our citizens. Its not big government - its clean air and water so we don't die via
  • Apple will take any of their old hardware off your hands and recycle it/dispose of it correctly- just drop it off at an Apple Store. If you're trying to dispose of an old iPod, they'll give you a discount towards the purchase of a new one. Apparently they also recycle stuff from other manufacturers if you buy a new replacement item from them.

    Amazon also has a recycling program available for their Kindles- you mail it in and they take care of it from there.

    I'm pretty sure Sony has a similar program for t

    • Apple will take any of their old hardware off your hands and recycle it/dispose of it correctly- just drop it off at an Apple Store. If you're trying to dispose of an old iPod, they'll give you a discount towards the purchase of a new one. Apparently they also recycle stuff from other manufacturers if you buy a new replacement item from them.

      Amazon also has a recycling program available for their Kindles- you mail it in and they take care of it from there.

      I'm pretty sure Sony has a similar program for their many electronics offerings.

      Those all sound like a lot of hassle. I have to lug my electronics into some store, or to the Post office. The dumpster is a lot closer.
      Recycling will only truly take off when someone is willing to pay me enough for the stuff to make it worth my while to sort it.

  • Toilet paper manufacturers should be held responsible for recycling their products post-consumer...

  • by dzfoo (772245)

    Maybe since they have some responsibility for the cleanup, it will motivate them to think about how you design for the environment and the commodity value at the end of the life

    Huh? Whose responsibility is it to design what??

          -dZ.

  • In The Netherlands, when you buy something like a TV, computer, washing machine, etc. you have to pay a 'removal fee' ("Verwijderingsbijdrage"). e.g. a refrigerator carries a 18 fee, a DVD recorder a 3 fee, etc. The money gained this way is put to use especially on dealing with recycling electric/electronic products. It doesn't cover the bills, afaik, but it helps and keeps more generic taxes (municipal waste taxes, for example) down.

    In addition, even for electric/electronic devices on which there is no

  • A big theme in the DRM threads is that once you buy something, it is yours to do as your please. The necessary flip side of that is that it is your responsibility after that -- not the manufacturer's, and not whoever you bought it from. Making manufacturers responsible for ultimate disposal necessarily gives them an interest in control of the device throughout it's lifecycle. And that's a bad thing.

  • by Archfeld (6757) * <treboreel@live.com> on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @02:16PM (#28532293) Journal

    I usually take them to Best Buy, just because I really hate the place and the management. I normally walk them into the customer service desk and set it in front or on top, tell the worker I'll be right back and just leave. I've never had anyone question me, heck, half the time they pretend not to even notice you so they don't have to deal with you. I like to imagine the look on their face at closing time when someone realizes that the item is not even a model they stock.

  • Safe recycling and disposal is necessary, and everyone has a role to play. Manufacturers should not be wholly responsible for the disposal of their products, for they are not the only player. Everybody involved needs to be responsible for areas where they can improve the situation. There is no point making anybody responsible for things that they cannot influence. But, the flip side is that it is completely right to make people responsible for what they do have influence over, if they are deriving benefit.

  • I imagine that if this happens, it will be just like CRV tax on bottles here in California. Every beverage bottle we buy here has a CRV cost attached to it. That cost can be recouped by recycling the bottle. Very few people end up recycling the bottles so they eat the CRV (usually about five cents a container). I can see the same thing happening with "eWaste". There will be a $10 or $20 fee tacked onto the price of everything. The manufacturers will say that they have done their part to offset the cos
  • I live in Wake County, NC. I pay my county taxes and as a benefit I get the North Wake Multi-Material Drop Off Site.

    http://www.wakegov.com/recycling/business/multimaterialdropoff.htm [wakegov.com]

    Why should I be paying another tax when I already have this?

"I have just one word for you, my boy...plastics." - from "The Graduate"

Working...