Gino DiCaro

Mandatory recycling program for cellular phones

By Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications

Capitol Update, April 8, 2004 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

AB 2901, authored by Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills), establishes a mandatory recycling program for cellular phones. This legislation is unnecessary because the wireless industry has already voluntarily initiated a recycling program that promotes the collection of used wireless devices and ensures that collected wireless products are managed properly. The industry's relatively new recycling program should be allowed time to mature before government legislates a fix that imposes high costs on consumers, retailers, manufacturers and the state, but does not materially advance the recycling of wireless products.

Moreover, AB 2901's prohibition on the sale of wireless devices that do not meet European Union (EU) metals and chemicals standards makes little sense when the EU standards are not yet in place, and when the standard is likely to be the subject of interpretive debate for some time. The effect of relying upon the undetermined and uncertain EU standards would be to isolate the California wireless market, limit consumer choice, and increase cost.

AB 2901 places the burden of implementing vague recycling policies almost solely on retailers with little guidance on potentially extensive and expensive data collection, reporting and other requirements. Coupled with implementation time lines that are impossible to meet and excessive penalties for failure to meet the timelines, the measure is unworkable. Relevant state agencies - the same ones that would be tasked with enforcing this measure - are still wrestling with implementation issues related to last year's SB 20 (Sher) mandating recycling of computers.
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