Peace in the City

Compromise separates differences over NYC e-waste.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City Council have reached a compromise on e-waste recycling legislation that was expected to be tangled in a series of vetoes and appeals.

According to the mayor's office, which is in favor of e-waste recycling legislation, Bloomberg would have vetoed the original bill because it placed what he viewed as arbitrary, minimum-percentage recycling requirements on electronics manufacturers

The compromise involves splitting the old bill into two new ones. One bill would still mandate collection efforts from manufacturers, who would have to create a recycling plan and submit it for the city's approval. However, the specific recycling requirements for manufacturers will appear in a separate bill.

Jason Post, deputy press secretary for the mayor, says the industry performance standards are arbitrarily set and hold manufacturers responsible for actions beyond their control. He adds that the mayor's office is pleased to reach a compromise that immediately allows e-waste recycling legislation to be signed into law.

“Why fight on everything when we could just fight on what we disagree on?” he says.

Bloomberg released a statement regarding the compromise and how he and the council largely agree on how to divert thousands of tons of electronics from area landfills.

“We are separating the issue into two bills so we can move forward on the broad areas where we have reached consensus, instead of letting our differences stop all progress,” according to the statement.

Under the minimum-percentage requirements separated from the original bill, manufacturers would have to collect an amount of electronics that is based on how much they sold in the city during the previous three years.

By 2012, they would have to recycle an amount equal to at least 25 percent of the tonnage sold. In 2015, the requirement would increase to 45 percent and, in 2018, to 65 percent.

Manufacturers failing to meet the thresholds would be fined $50,000 for each percentage point that they fall short. Among the other possible fines, manufacturers caught improperly disposing of electronic equipment would be fined $1,000 for each violation, beginning in 2009.

According to the City Council, the compromise is a big step. However, the council is still prepared to fight for the manufacturer requirements that Bloomberg opposes, should he veto the new bill containing them.

“We are pleased that the program can now be implemented,” says Bill de Blasio, City Council member and lead sponsor of the legislation. “We continue to believe that performance standards are critical to ensuring that the program is successful, and look forward to working with the mayor, the speaker and the rest of the council to see those standards implemented in the program.”

Christine Quinn, speaker for the city council, says she is proud the compromise was reached because it will allow the city to quickly implement an e-waste recycling program.

“While we are pleased to have reached this agreement, the Council still believes that enforceable collection standards must be a part of any e-waste program,” she says. “Therefore, we will be simultaneously passing legislation to create those standards. But we will not let that delay us in implementing an effective program, and allowing electronics to continue to pile up in our homes, or pollute our air and water.”