Getting the Word Out
One California CRT recycler said its too soon to measure the laws impact. "Were not sure," said Bob Erie, co-founder and chief executive at Computer Recyclers of America, based in Vista, Calif., whose Southern California facility has processed 12 million pounds of electronic waste since its plant opened in May 2003. "Were hoping it will have a positive influence on the business, but we want to wait and see. "Its the best thing to happen to the industry," Erie said. "However, like any new law, its going to have bugs. We wont be able to tell until it takes effect and starts running." Randy Lewis, president and CEO at SoCal Computer Recyclers, based in Harbor City, Calif., said the law will help raise awareness among consumers and businesses, whom he said arent even aware that computers and monitors can be recycled. Those who do, Lewis said, are often shocked to learn that they must pay a recycling fee, rather than receive cash back as they do when recycling aluminum cans or bottles. SoCal charges $10 per CRT and a dollar per television set.Click here to read about Office Depot and HPs efforts to offer free PC recycling.As many as 6 million CRTs could be affected, said Chris Peck, a spokesman for the California Waste Management Board in Sacramento. Peck didnt rule out the possibility that recyclers could begin stockpiling CRTs in warehouses as they wait for the state funding to begin. The point is to get older CRTs off the street and out of landfills, he said. "Thats the sort of thing thats not supposed to be covered. If theyre bringing them in to be recycled, then yes," the state compensation should be applied, Peck said. Under the law, retailers will be required to call out the additional recycling charge on a customers receipt at time of purchase, similar to the Sept. 11 security surcharges assessed on the sale of airplane tickets. If a retailer chooses to assume the cost, the retailer also must note that on the receipt. The retailer can then accept as much as 3 percent of the reimbursement fee from the state of California. The law will exempt LCDs or displays found in microwaves, washing machines and other domestic devices, as well as automobiles. But the definition of "video display devices" covered under the law includes a "CRT, LCD [liquid crystal display], gas plasma, digital light processing and other image-projection technology," i.e. projectors. And the new law hides other problems, according to Michele Raymond, publisher of State Recycling Laws Update, based in College Park, Maryland. Already, states have had difficulty enforcing sales tax laws on PCs or other devices bought in another state or country via the Internet. "This is the only state in the country thats gone this route," Raymond said. "The problem with implementing it is that buying from the Internet is going to be very, very difficult to enforce. I cant see every company every time paying that fee, especially the smaller Internet companies. I cant see how to enforce it on a small Internet dealer in China, for example. They think they can; theyre bringing in their sales tax people, [but] its going to be a challenge." Next Page: Is California setting an example?