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WASHINGTON STATE LAWMAKERS have passed legislation that would provide for a statewide e-waste collection system. If Gov. Christine Gregoire signs the legislation, as expected, Washington will become the fourth state to adopt a law addressing electronic product recycling.

The legislation, which was sponsored by state Sen. Craig Pridemore, D-Vancouver, would require manufacturers to finance a system for collecting, transporting and recycling electronic waste. They either would have to enroll in a state e-recycling system set up and controlled by the Washington Materials Management and Financing Authority — also created by the legislation — or participate in an independent plan created by a manufacturer or group of manufacturers.

The law would require manufacturers to register with the state's Department of Ecology by January 2007 and attach a label with their brand name on all electronics sold in the state. Manufacturers must decide if they are going to participate in the state system or an independent plan by January 2009.

While the new law wouldn't directly charge consumers for getting rid of their used electronics (as in California), buyers likely will end up paying for the service one way or another. According to the text of the bill, “If costs are passed on to consumers, it must be done without any fees at the time the unwanted electronic product is delivered or collected for recycling.” Panasonic, Sony Electronics and Sharp Electronics lobbied against the bill and instead proposed a direct consumer fee similar to California's, while RadioShack, Hewlett Packard, the Washington Retail Association and Amazon supported the legislation.