Watertown Dem wants industry to absorb growing e-waste costs

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON (SHNS) – In an effort to prompt electronics manufacturers to design “less toxic and more durable” products, a Watertown Democrat filed legislation that would require producers to cover the cost of collecting, transporting, and recycling products once they are discarded.

The bill (H 979), filed by Rep. Steven Owens, would address what he said is a “growing worldwide problem.” At a committee hearing Tuesday afternoon, Owens said 53 million metric tons of electronic waste were recorded across the globe in 2019, an increase of 20 percent over the past five years.

“We in the U.S. were the second largest contributor to that, and the U.N. predicts that global e-waste will double over the next 16 years,” he said during the hearing. “That makes it the fastest-growing domestic waste stream and it’s fueled mainly by the higher consumption rates of electronics and electronic equipment, with their shorter life cycles and fewer options for repairing them.”

The legislation requires producers of covered electronics like computers, televisions, video game consoles, and printers to bear the financial responsibility for the collection, transportation, and reuse or recycling process.

It would also require e-waste collectors and processors to register with the Department of Environmental Protection every three years to prevent illegal e-waste trafficking, Owens said.

The World Health Organization released a report last week that found e-waste “volumes are surging globally” and have a negative effect on children and women’s health.

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