What’s Next in Mandated Recycling

By Loretta Macktal, Executive Assistant to the Vice President, Government Relations

Capitol Update, April 1, 2005 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) has introduced SB 423, Electronic Waste Recycling.  Although it is touted as strictly a clean-up bill for the initial electronic recycling bill, SB20, and last year's clean-up bill, SB 50 (both authored by Byron Sher), SB 423 contains troubling language.  Simitian has agreed to pull this bill from the hearing calendar and amend it to intent-only language.

With the successful chaptering of its electronic waste bill, Californian's Against Waste has sponsored more bills aimed at household waste.  Last year, Senator Liz Figueroa (D-Sunol) authored SB 1180 on fluorescent lamp recycling and Assemblymember Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) introduced AB 2901 on cell phone recycling.  SB 1180 died in Assembly Appropriations and AB 2901 was eventually amended to mirror the program already in place by industry.  

This year Assemblymember Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley) has reintroduced her bill on CD and DVD recycling similar to AB 2166, which died in its first committee last year.  AB 1193 prohibits the mailing of CDs and DVDs without the consent of the recipient unless postage is paid in advance for return of the item and packaging.  

The problem that the bill is trying to solve has not been studied or adequately defined.  There is no evidence that CDs or DVDs pose any kind of problem in landfills in the State.  AB 1193 also does not adequately deal with the issue of CD and DVD recycling.  There is no evidence that this costly mandate would result in more recycled CDs and DVDs.  It is unlikely that a significant number of consumers would use the return packaging.  More likely, they will simply throw out the packaging with the CD if it is unwanted, creating MORE unrecycled waste.  

Furthermore, AB 1193 does not impose recycling requirements on purchased CDs and DVDs at their end of life, basically implementing cost-barriers only for the otherwise free distribution of promotional goods.  

Assemblymember Pavley has also introduced AB 1125, to mandate that retailers in California selling household batteries, or products with batteries, implement a battery take-back program, at no cost to the consumer, by January 1, 2006.  This legislation applies to both household batteries that are not toxic (predominantly alkaline batteries used for flashlights, remote-control devices, etc.) and rechargeable batteries (nickel, cadmium, mercuric oxide, etc.) that are toxic and already have their own voluntary collection program.  

This legislation lacks a sound scientific basis regarding household batteries and would create the first mandated recycling program in the nation for these non-toxic low-volume products with no demonstrated secondary use.  With regards to rechargeable batteries, the legislation ignores the current voluntary program that has proven successful in generating returns of these batteries which are then sent to facilities for remediation.

On another recycling matter, Assemblymember Betty Karnette (D-Long Beach) has introduced AB 1103 to place a $7 tax on the sale of each new bicycle to fund a bicycle recycling and disposal program.  The bill would appoint a bicycle program administrator and set up recycling centers.  CMTA believes this bureaucracy is unnecessary and too costly for a problem that has not been shown to exist.

Either independently or through coalitions, CMTA will be actively opposing the above bills.
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