NEWS:

Md. Dept. of the Environment Gets Tough on Computer Manufacturers

Registration, Fee Required or No Sales Will be Allowed

SOURCE: Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE)
Fees will be used to provide grants to counties and municipalities for computer recycling activities, as well as for educating the public about these services.
In the new year, Marylanders will have greater resources to dispose of their old consumer electronics. And computer makers could be penalized and/or lose their right to tap into the vast Maryland electronics market, if they do not act under provisions of a new state law.

Maryland's new Statewide Computer Recycling Pilot Program law, enacted July 1, increases computer recycling and manufacturers' responsibility for management of their end-of-life products. Maryland's Department of the Environment (MDE) is responsible for ensuring that computer manufacturers register and pay a registration fee by January 1, 2006.

The fees will be used to provide grants to counties and municipalities for computer recycling activities and to assist the department with providing outreach and education and computer recycling opportunities statewide.

"Because the law is new and unlike the laws in California and Maine, the program has answered many phone calls and emails in recent months requesting clarification on the law's provisions," said MDE Secretary Kendl P. Philbrick. "If computer manufacturers do not comply with the law, the department will take appropriate steps to ensure that they do."

After paying an intitial $5,000 fee, a manufacturer who implements a take-back program for their computers that is free to the returner and acceptable to the department may have the annual fee reduced to $500.

In April, Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. signed House Bill 575 that created the new program. It is one of only three state laws regulating the management of used electronics. Maryland's law requires manufacturers of an average of more than 1,000 computers over the previous three years to register with the department and pay an initial $5,000 annual registration fee if they want to sell computers in Maryland on or after January 1, 2006. In subsequent years, if a manufacturer has implemented a take-back program for their computers that is free to the returner and acceptable to the department, the registration fee may be reduced to $500 per year. The law affects manufacturers of desktop computers, laptop computers, and computer monitors.

MDE estimates approximately 150 computer manufacturers are required to register and pay the fee.

"With the holidays over soon and many new gift computers replacing older ones, it is expected that many Marylanders will be looking for reuse and recycling opportunities," said MDE Waste Management Administration Director Horacio Tablada. "Once the new program is completely up and running, it should be able to assist in this effort by providing much needed resources to enhance existing recycling infrastructure and environmentally sound management of end of life computers."

Nearly 4,000 tons of electronics have been collected for recycling in the state since October 2001, when electronics recycling, or "eCycling," began with an Environmental Protection Agency Region 3 eCycling Pilot Project launch in Harford County.


For more information on eCycling, please visit the Department's website or contact Hilary Miller via email at hmiller@mde.state.md.us.



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This story was published on December 30, 2005.