One Step Closer

You may find crumpled drafts of speeches in Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's trash can, but one thing you won't see is e-waste. Blagojevich recently signed an order requiring state government employees to recycle their used electronics or dispose of them responsibly.

His office estimates that 55,000 employees work under the governor and use PCs or lap-tops daily and that the equipment is replaced or upgraded every three to five years. That figure is in addition to the thousands of fax and copy machines, cell phones and PDAs.

The move — the first of its kind in the Midwest — brings Illinois one step closer to adopting statewide e-waste legislation. “State government is just a small part of a bigger problem,” Blagojevich said when announcing the order. “I will urge the General Assembly to build on the efforts of my administration by adopting statewide electronics recycling legislation.”

According to the governor's office, Blagojevich signed the order after reviewing a report from the state Computer Equipment Disposal and Recycling Commission (CEDRC). In the report, the commission advocates a statewide model that would make electronics producers “pay a fee based on qualifying sales or share of returned equipment in the state, and retailers would provide the sales data.”

CEDRC's recommendation gels with the Midwest Regional Electronic Waste Recycling Policy Initiative, an effort among five states and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to create a regional consensus on the topic. The initiative's policy statement, adopted in April, pushes for a manufacturer responsibility model similar to that in Maine, Maryland and Washington.